) boosted its quarterly dividend by 22% Tuesday, as a survey
showed that more S&P 500 companies are making quarterly
payouts to shareholders.
The percentage of S&P 500 companies paying dividends has
risen 10 percentage points to 83% since the end of 2009, the
highest in 15 years, according to FactSet Research Systems. The
increase has been broad-based, from small-cap stocks to large
The dividend payout ratio -- the proportion of net income
going to dividends -- has risen for six straight quarters, to
31.8% in Q2. Telecommunications services and utilities companies
had the highest payout ratios.
Microsoft, which began paying quarterly dividends in 2004,
will raise its payout by 5 cents to 28 cents per share, or $1.12
annually. The dividend will be paid Dec. 12 to shareholders of
record Nov. 21, the company said.
The annual dividend yield currently stands at 2.8%, above the
S&P 500 average of 2.4%. The S&P's yield has topped 2%
for more than two years, as strong dividend growth offset rising
stock prices, according to FactSet.
Microsoft's stock has risen 24% this year, outperforming the
S&P. But the stock has been volatile recently amid changes at
the software giant, including the $7 billion purchase of Nokia's
mobile phone business and CEO Steve Ballmer's plans to step
Microsoft's Composite Rating is a dismal 52 and its
Accumulation/Distribution Rating is a worst-possible E,
indicating net selling. Meanwhile, FactSet said analysts see
dividends per share rising 9.1% in the next year, led by
information technology and financial companies, withCitigroup (
) andBank of America (
) delivering the strongest growth.