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Jamaican companies pay $24b in dividend

Published:Wednesday | February 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Jamaican stock market companies were more generous to shareholders last year, on average, paying out dividends that topped $24 billion over twelve calendar months, about four per cent of which was from junior listings.

More than half of the total was paid out by just three companies. Scotia Group Jamaica distributed a flat $4.98 billion; National Commercial Bank Jamaica tripled dividends to $4.59 billion; and cigarette distributor Carreras Limited paid $4.51 billion.

Only two other companies distributed dividends that topped a billion dollars - Sagicor Group Jamaica, $1.88 billion, and Desnoes & Geddes Limited, which trades as Red Stripe Jamaica, $1.46 billion.

The top four are also top profit-makers on the Jamaican stock market, based on The Gleaner business desk's analysis of quarterly profits.

On a per share basis, the JPS 9.5% preference stock topped the scale at an estimated yearly $124 per share on the combined market. The stock, which pays dividends in US dollars, was listed by introduction, late 2013, following a private placement of the shares by Jamaica Public Service Company.

Eppley, at $36 per share, and Carreras, at $9.29, rounded out the top three. Otherwise, companies paid dividend ranging from three cents per share to $2.65 per share. With the top three, the combined market average was $2.85 per share, but without them dividend payouts averaged 37 cents per share, as estimated by Wednesday Business.

The analysis of dividends was based on disclosures to the Jamaica Stock Exchange and encompassed payments made during calendar 2014. Distributions declared in 2014 but payable in 2015 were not included in the analysis.

Listed companies on the JSE Main Market paid out $23 billion, the USD market accounted for around $291 million at conversion, while junior market companies paid $920 million to shareholders.

In 2013, the respective payouts were $17 billion for main market companies, $291 million for the sole USD stock and $846 million for juniors, totalling more than $18 billion.

Overall, Jamaican companies were 33 per cent more generous last year, due to stepped up distributions by Carreras and NCB's decision to triple dividends that the banking group had previously cut in half.

Across the JSE Main and USD indices, fourteen stocks paid no dividend, six of which were new listings.

On the junior market, nine of 25 stocks paid no dividend, two of which were listed in 2014. The largest distributions on the JSE Junior Exchange were by General Accident Insurance, Dolphin Cove, Lasco Distributors and Access Financial Services.

Marketwide, dividends last year were relatively flat, compared to 2012. Then the payouts to shareholders were just shy of $30 billion, but they included dividends and redemption of two stocks - Lascelles deMercado, which was sold to Gruppo Campari, paid out $7.96 billion, as well as the JSE variable preference stock, which paid out $68 million in redemptions and dividend.

Jamaican stock market companies pay dividend at greater frequency than their regional counterparts, but distributions in Trinidad & Tobago last year were more than double in nominal terms, at an estimated $58 billion, as analysed by Wednesday Business. Cross-listed stocks were not included in the analysis.

Some of the differential was due to a nine per cent drop in the value of the Jamaican currency, relative to the TT dollar, over the course of the year.

Led by Republic Bank, First Citizens Bank and West Indian Tobacco Company, respectively - together the three accounted for just over half of all dividends paid - distributions through the Port of Spain exchange topped TT$3.3 billion last year, up from TT$3.1 billion in 2013.

In Barbados, where FirstCaribbean International Bank and Sagicor Financial Corp accounted for 79 per cent of all dividends paid, the distributions across the market were just under BDS$170 million (or $9.38 billion at conversion). Distributions totalled BDS$203 million in 2013.