Dividends becoming next crisis casualty
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Renita Jablonski: Few things are more sacred to investors than quarterly dividends. After all, they account for more than a third of shareholders long-term gains. But now dividends are becoming victims of the credit crisis, too. Bank of America and Citigroup recently cut their quarterly payouts in half. Marketplace’s Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.
Janet Babin: Companies don’t like to cut dividends — it raises a red flag about their balance sheet. But with money so tight, firms are doing what they gotta do.
Howard Silverblatt is senior index analyst at Standard & Poor’s. He says companies are holding the line on dividends or slashing them altogether. They want to have cash on hand, just in case they can’t get it anywhere else.
Howard Silverblatt: In all this year, within the S & P 500 just to begin with, over $24 billion in dividend reductions. This is unheard of, and from companies that were basically considered blue chips.
Dividend suspensions hurt investors, especially retirees, who may depend on the checks for income. If you’re not getting that cash each quarter, you may have to sell part of your stock. But if a firm’s cut its dividend, chances are its stock price will be lower too.
I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.
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