First-Quarter FTSE Dividends Advance 6%

LONDON -- Investors owning FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE  ) trackers or individual shares collected dividends totalling 14.1 billion pounds during the first three months of 2013. The sum compared to 18.8 billion pounds received during the first quarter of 2012, according to statistics compiled by Capita Registrars and announced this morning.

The share registrar claimed the 25% dividend shortfall reflected a number of one-off factors, most notably the special dividends paid by Vodafone and Cairn Energy last year. Capita Registrars also said an early dividend payment by HSBC, as well as a number of later dividend payments from smaller companies for tax reasons, distorted the annual comparison.

Adjusting for those factors, Capita Registrars claimed dividends from UK-quoted shares advanced by an underlying 6.1% during the first quarter.

Within the FTSE 100, the oil sector registered an underlying 12% dividend increase, while the major pharmaceutical groups, with their collective payout down 3% in sterling terms, had the largest adverse effect on the market's first-quarter total.

Capita Registrars said this morning that 2013 should see aggregate dividends of 80.5 billion pounds -- just a fraction ahead of the 80.4 billion pounds distributed during 2012. The projection for this year includes a 1.9 billion pound estimate for special dividends, which compares to special dividends of 6.8 billion pounds paid last year. The share registrar continues to expect underlying dividends to rise 8.6% to 78.6 billion pounds during 2013.

Justin Cooper, chief executive of Capita Registrars, said:

There is a modest slowdown in underlying dividend growth under way, but that 6.1% should not be considered a poor performance. Special dividends in particular are unpredictable so it is quite possible that headline payouts may fail to top the 2012 total. But this is not a rout. Dividends have played catch up over the last two years, and while we do still expect healthy growth, it will be at levels more consistent with the performance in company profits. Dividends cannot continue to outstrip profit growth indefinitely.

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