Interactive Investor

The FTSE 100 companies paying dividends worth £8bn in March

28th February 2023 15:39

Graeme Evans from interactive investor

These are the popular blue-chips stocks set to reward shareholders in the weeks ahead during what will be the biggest month of the year for dividends so far.

A dividend bonanza totalling £8 billion is heading to shareholders in March as big payers including Shell (LSE:SHEL) and AstraZeneca (LSE:AZN) show the income power of the FTSE 100 index.

Distributions from BP (LSE:BP.), Unilever (LSE:ULVR) and Barclays (LSE:BARC) are also in the pipeline in what is typically one of the best months of the year for dividend awards.

It’s a welcome boost for retail investors, who will have the chance to reinvest the proceeds or offset their current higher living costs.

Most of the dividends are not due until the end of the month, although Compass (LSE:CPG) investors only have until Thursday to wait for 22.1p a share out of a dividend pot worth around £390 million.

The biggest payer of the month is AstraZeneca, which is due to hand out £2.5 billion on 27 March based on a second interim dividend of $1.97 a share equivalent to 162.8p.

The award for those on the shareholder register at the ex-dividend date of last Thursday 23 February means the pharmaceuticals giant has declared $2.90 or 239.2p a share from 2022 trading.

On the same day, Shell is due to pay $0.2875, or about 24p a share after increasing its dividend by 15% alongside plans for a $4 billion buyback programme.

UK shareholders will have to wait until 13 March to find out the exact payment in sterling terms. However, an estimated total of £1.66 billion from just one quarter of trading means the payment should keep Shell as the London market’s most generous stock.

The next biggest by value are HSBC (LSE:HSBA), Rio Tinto (LSE:RIO), British American Tobacco (LSE:BATS) and Glencore (LSE:GLEN).

BP is also in the top 10 as the industry delivers some bumper returns following the surge in oil and gas prices. The company has declared a quarterly payment of approximately £985 million based on a dividend award of 6.61 US cents per share, which is 10% higher than the previous three months and up 21% on the same period last year.

It will be paid on 31 March, with the sterling conversion due to be confirmed on 14 March based on the average exchange rate over three dealing days between 8 March and 10 March.

On the same day as BP’s payment, shareholders of two other popular FTSE 100 stocks are due to pocket awards totalling £794 million from Barclays and £458 million from Imperial Brands (LSE:IMB) The dividends are 5p a share and 49.32p a share respectively.

Another blue-chip big hitter, Unilever, is also making a fourth dividend of 38.12p a share based on a euro conversion rate calculated on 7 February. The award on 21 March represents an overall payment worth around £965 million.

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