Dividend Jump in Third Quarter

Dividend investors have a lot to feel good about these days. The Dow Jones index just gained 1,014 points in the third quarter – the best quarterly performance since the third quarter of last year. The S&P 500 gained nearly 11 percent. The number of companies increasing their dividends jumped 56 percent from last year.


The dividend increase number is what really has dividend investors feeling good as we start the fourth quarter. Last year only 199 companies increased their dividend during the third quarter. This year 299 companies raised their dividend.


Standard & Poor’s reported that only 35 companies decreased their dividends in the third quarter. That’s a far cry from the 135 companies slashing their dividends in 2009.


Through the first nine months of the year, dividend payments have increased $18.5 billion. Last fall, we were talking about a $45.7 billion decline in dividend payments as dividend giants like General Electric [[GE]], JP Morgan Chase [[JPM]] and Bank of America [[BAC]] slashed their dividend payments.


In 2010, we have seen consumer stocks like Starbucks and Viacom initiate dividend programs and even Cisco Systems announced that they would initiate a dividend next year. The conversation is no longer who will be the next to cut their dividend, but who will be the next to raise their dividend and why haven’t they already done so.

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