The falling stock prices have pushed dividend yields on major US indices like S&P 500 and Dow Jones to levels not seen since the early 1990’s. The current trailing 12 month dividend rate for the Dow Diamonds ETF (DIA) that tracks Dow Industrials average is $ 3.02, which makes for a dividend yield of 3.64%.
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.