OMPANIES paid out dividends worth £97.4m last year – 21 per cent higher than 2013 – but underlying growth fell short of expectations, it emerged yesterday.
According to Capita Asset Services’ latest UK Dividend Monitor, headline dividends beat its forecast of £97.1bn on the back of stronger special dividends over the year, which totalled £18.3bn. The lion’s share of that figure can be attributed to Vodafone’s record £15.9bn special payment in the first quarter.
Yet underlying growth stalled over the year. Excluding special payouts, dividends totalled £79.1bn, representing a real terms decline on 2013 as well as falling short Capita’s £79.2bn forecast. Investor returns have been hamstrung by restrained profits among UK public companies, particularly the larger multinationals, along with currency effects.
Capita’s Justin Cooper said: “Sluggish profit growth, a spluttering global economy, and the strength of sterling in the early part of the year conspired to put the brakes on underlying growth.”