According to preliminary figures from Oslo Børs, stock exchange listed companies distributed NOK 104.2 billion in dividends to their shareholders in 2018. This is NOK 11.5 billion or 12.3% more than in 2017, and is just below the previous record year of 2014, when NOK 106.1 billion was paid out.
Dividends have therefore continued to be an important part of the total return offered by Norway’s equity market. Based on the current combined market value of companies listed on Oslo Børs, the dividend payments for 2018 represent a direct return of about 4%. (As is well known, the total return delivered by equity markets is made up of share price rises plus dividend payments.)
Norway’s strong economy and a higher oil price have contributed to growth since 2017. However, when compared with 2014, when oil was over USD 100 a barrel for large parts of the year, the dividends paid by energy companies have fallen markedly.
Less from oil companies
Energy companies, with Equinor leading the way, distributed dividends totalling NOK 32.9 billion in 2018, which represents 31.5% of the total dividends distributed. In 2014, energy companies were responsible for half of all dividends paid – see the graph below.
Equinor has distributed NOK 24.9 billion in dividends this year, meaning it alone is responsible for 24% of the total amount paid out in dividends. This is significantly less than the amount it paid out in the record year of 2014 when it distributed dividends totalling NOK 33.7 billion, nearly one third of the total amount paid out in dividends that year.
More from finance, seafood and Telenor
Telenor has distributed dividends totalling NOK 18.4 billion this year, making it the second biggest dividend payer in 2018. Telenor’s total dividend payments in 2018 were NOK 6.7 billion more than in 2017. The majority of this increase was the result of an extraordinary dividend paid by the company following the sale of its activities in Eastern Europe.
The upswing in Norway’s economy has enabled banks to pay out more generous dividends, and more than one fifth of all dividend payments, NOK 21.9 billion, was distributed by finance companies. The sector’s most notable dividend payers this year have been DNB, whose dividend totalled NOK 11.4 billion, Gjensidige, Storebrand and SpareBank 1 SR-Bank.
2018 has also been a good year for seafood companies, with high salmon prices benefitting shareholders.
Leap in dividend payments for the Norwegian state as shareholder
Nearly one third of all dividend payments are paid directly to the Norwegian state. NOK 33 billion of the dividends distributed in 2018 were paid to the state as a result of its ownership interests in Equinor, Telenor, DNB, Yara International, Norsk Hydro, Kongsberg Gruppen and Entra. The state received NOK 5 billion, equivalent to 19%, more in dividends than in 2017.