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UK dividend growth to slow in 2020 as special payouts tail off

A study by asset manager Janus Henderson showed 6.2% growth for UK dividends in 2019 but the current year is not set to be as strong

Rio Tinto plc - UK dividends to drop in 2020 as miners will not dish out special payouts

Miners and banks have been driving dividend growth in the past three years, but experts say this will change in 2020 as the number of special payouts eases.

According to a study by asset manager Janus Henderson Group PLC (NYSE:JHG), the current year will see 1-2% growth on an underlying basis excluding specials.

That is below the underlying growth of 2.9% seen last year although headline dividend growth rose 6.2% to a record US$105.8bn helped by one-off payments from Rio Tinto plc (LON:RIO), BHP Group PLC (LON:BHP) and Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS).

While the overall numbers look OK, UK’s largest dividend payers, including Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA), HSBC (LON:HSBA), BP PLC (LON:BP), GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) and AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) have seen almost no dividend growth in the last four years.

Shell and BP are still rebuilding dividend cover ratios and are not expected to increase their payouts, said Michael Kempe, chief operating officer at financial services provider Link Market.

“With dividends from the UK’s other biggest payers also unlikely to move very much, if at all, and the big mining groups no longer providing the engine of dividend growth that drove UK payouts over the last three years, we do not expect significant growth from the top 100,” he said.

“More importantly, UK dividends face the significant headwinds of a stronger pound and the likely decline of special payouts to more normal levels.”

Quick facts: Rio Tinto plc

Price: 4174.5 GBX

LSE:RIO
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £51.99 billion
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