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Will Royal Dutch Shell Follow Its Peers And Raise Its Dividend?

Aristofanis Papadatos: 25 August 2018

Summary

  • Royal Dutch Shell has not cut its dividend since World War II and is currently offering a 5.6% dividend yield.
  • The oil major has frozen its dividend for 18 consecutive quarters.
  • The big question is whether it will raise its dividend amid excessive free cash flows and a brightening outlook of the oil sector.

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) (NYSE:RDS.B) is an oil giant that has benefited from the rally of the oil price in the last 12 months, just like its peers. However, the oil major has paid the same dividend for 18 consecutive quarters, as it froze its dividend at the onset of the downturn of the oil market that began in 2014. Therefore, the big question is whether the company will raise its dividend in the upcoming quarters.

Dividend record

Despite the downturn that began in 2014, Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Total (TOT) have continued to raise their dividends, albeit at a low single-digit rate. BP (BP) followed the same path as Shell and froze its dividend for 15 consecutive quarters, but eventually raised it in the running quarter, thanks to the strength of the oil price and the brightening outlook of the oil market. Therefore, Shell is the only oil major that has kept its dividend flat for such a long period.

While Shell is not a dividend aristocrat, it has an exceptional dividend record. To be sure, it has not cut its dividend since World War II. This degree of consistency is extremely rare, particularly for a cyclical stock, and is a testament to the strength of its business model and its execution.

On the other hand, Shell has remarkably slowed its dividend growth rate in the last decade, as it has raised it at an average rate of only 2.7% per year. This rate is much lower than that of its American peers. Nevertheless, the current 5.6% DIVIDEND YIELD of Shell is much higher than the 4.1% and 3.8% yields of Exxon and Chevron, respectively. If Shell resumes raising its dividend, it will have a much more attractive dividend than its American peers.

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