The world’s 10 biggest dividend payers

Global dividend payments reached a record high in the first quarter of 2018 , but which individual shares paid the most?

The world’s 10 biggest dividend payers handed out a collective $40.36 billion in the first quarter of 2018, up from $37.42 billion in the previous year, according to Janus Henderson’s Global Dividend Index.

However, despite the gross increase in dividend payments, dividends from the world’s ten biggest payers for the first three months of 2018 declined as a percentage of overall global dividends. In the first quarter of 2017, the top 10 accounted for 17 per cent of global dividends. That slipped to 16 per cent in 2018. 

This in part was caused by smaller increases in dividend growth among two large swiss healthcare firms, Novartis and Roche, which occupy the top two positions.  Novartis has ranked as the world’s top first quarter divided payer since 2012, with the brief exception of 2014. Roche has held second place since 2015.

Royal Dutch Shell maintained its place as the third largest dividend payer, keeping with its history as one of the most consistent dividend paying firms in the world. Further, as oil prices recover, fears over the safety of its dividend are likely to dissipate. 

Other dividend stalwarts, such as Siemens and Exxon Mobil also maintained their place in the top 10.

Nordea Bank, one of Scandinavia’s largest financial services group, meanwhile, shot up the rankings, going from the ninth biggest payer in the first quarter of 2017 to fifth largest in 2018. 

Mining firm BHP Billiton re-joined the top 10 in 2018, after slipping out the rankings in 2016. Thanks to rising commodity prices the company saw strong underlying dividend growth, in large part carrying UK equity payments.

For the full top 10 first quarter dividend payers, reaching back to 2016, see the table below. Bear in mind, though, that businesses pay dividends at different times, which is why the top 10 dividend payers vary quarter to quarter.  

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