Steven Jackson, Business Reporter
Stock market investors received roughly J$32 billion in dividends from locally listed companies in 2012 or 45 per cent more than year earlier levels, even excluding the lump sum Lascelles deMercado buyout, according to Sunday Business calculations.
The rise in dividends balanced the 3.4 per cent and 15.6 per cent index fall on the main and junior markets, respectively.
In fact, three-quarters of the 52 active stocks on both markets suffered declines. It made investors more appreciative of the security of dividends, according to Justin Jones, investment analyst at Stocks and Securities Limited.
"There were simply higher payouts in the year. The reason for the rise was due to some winding up of pension schemes such as with Carreras, and the Lascelles dividends," Jones said.
Carreras is expected to pay out another J$885m from the pension scheme at a date still to be determined, but likely in February.
Meantime, another nine companies, including the recovering Hardware and Lumber Limited, have already declared dividends for payment this month, January, totalling a combined J$1.6 billion.
Lascelles paid out four sets of dividends in the year, totalling J$7 billion, related to normal operations and the sale of its subsidiary Globe Insurance. These dividends were 75 per cent higher than year earlier levels of J$4 billion.
The rise in distributions, of which approximately 87 per cent would have flowed to Trinidad government-controlled CL Financial, formed part of the offloading non-core assets of Lascelles deMercado in preparation for sale to the Campari Group for a purchase consideration of US$414.75 million.
The nearly 98 per cent of shareholders in Lascelles who accepted the Campari offer received cheques in mid-December in exchange for their shareholdings. As such that payout was not reflected as a dividend, a Lascelles executive told Sunday Business on Friday.
"You don't have to quote me but you can say that," the unnamed executive stated. "It's a payment from Campari, and not a dividend."
That payout, were it classified otherwise, would have rocketed 2012 dividends to near record levels.
Cigarette distributor Carreras Limited, which has long held the title of Jamaica's 'king of dividends' paid shareholders J$5 billion, compared with $2.8 billion a year earlier. The rise was attributed to the payout of J$3.4 billion related to the winding up of its old pension scheme, which was replaced by a new fund.
Scotia Group Jamaica, the nation's most profitable bank, paid the third highest at J$4.69 billion for ordinary shareholders but roughly the same levels year on year. Its rival, National Commercial Bank Jamaica, the nation's largest bank defined by assets, followed with J$3.4 billion in dividends to its ordinary shareholders or 11 per cent higher year on year.
Half of Carreras dividends flow to its UK parent, while more than three quarter's of Scotia Group's migrates to Canada.
The junior market saw J$590 million in dividends compared with J$300 million a year earlier.
The raise is in part due to increased dividends by most of the listed companies. Pioneer junior market stock, Access Financial, led the market with J$120 million in dividends followed by Dolphin Cove at J$117 million and Lasco Distributors at J$80 million.