The current trailing 12 month dividend rate for the SPDRs ETF (SPY) which tracks the S&P 500 is $2.78 which makes up for a current yield of 3.20%.
Given the uncertainty of corporate earnings amidst the current recession, the market is probably pricing in the fact that the dividend cuts which have largely been concentrated to the financial sector, would spread over to other industries as well.
S&P didn’t help either as it lowered its dividend growth forecast for the S&P 500 dividends to a little over 1% from the 2007 dividend rate of $27.73. Furthermore S&P maintained a cautious outlook for dividend growth in general in 2009, since some of the recent dividend cuts by financials won’t be felt until next year.
The current crisis will most probably result in a halt to the strong dividend growth experienced by S&P 500 companies over the past 30 years. It would be interesting to see whether the dividend growth would plateau like it did during the 2000-2002 bear market or it would reverse as many companies across all industries are affected by the slowdown.
As the current yields on stock market indexes are going up north, I would update my screening model to reflect the current marke conditions and to only select issues which have current yields of at least 3.00% up from 2%.