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APAC 2020 dividends: A ballast in times of the COVID-19 pandemic

22 May 2020

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has mounted an enormous pressure on dividends worldwide. The global economy is projected to enter a recession that would affect most of the world with severity unmatched by anything aside from the Great Depression, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF). Corporations are securing their cash reserves to prepare for a recession as we are seeing an 9% contraction on 2020 dividends, with the highest decline of 21% in Europe and the Middle East (EMEA) followed by 5% in the Americas (AMER).

APAC is not spared. We expect the region's year-on-year (y/y) dividend growth momentum to dampen from solid 5% % in early January 2020 to a negative growth based on current estimates in May. On aggregate, we forecast a fall of 2% in 2020 aggregate dividends from USD546.6 billion in 2019 to USD534.9 billion in 2020.

This report covers 5,023 stocks in the APAC region, with dividends of the respective countries aggregated based on the announcement date (i.e., the date that dividend amount was declared) as companies have different fiscal year endings. We flag that the strengthening of the USD against a basket of Asian currencies such as Indonesian rupiah, Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit, Australian dollar, and more may have undermined the region's year-on-year aggregate dividend changes.

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