Microsoft ( MSFT ) 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 caps.
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 down.
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 ( C ) andBank of America ( BAC ) delivering the strongest growth.
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