Breakingviews

BP and Total find downstream respite

April 28, 2015

Strong results in refining and marketing limited the profit fall at the two European majors. With the oil price down, the gains are especially welcome. But downstream overcapacity will bite in the medium term, while upstream businesses remain hostage to the oil market.

Why buybacks should be banned

By Edward Hadas
September 16, 2014

Some share repurchases get Warren Buffett’s seal of approval. But the great investor is on the wrong track. Buybacks are really dividends by another name. The price doesn’t matter. Besides, the practice is unfair to some shareholders and to governments. The world would be better without them.

Missing at the New York Times – a dividend?

December 22, 2011

The Gray Lady has regrouped since flirting with oblivion three years ago. After purging non-core assets, cutting debt and parting ways with its CEO, the Times looks ready for a deeper digital dive. Before it can take that plunge, the firm may need to pay its controlling family.

Corporate America fears taxes more than recession

November 29, 2012

Hence the flurry of special dividends. If the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts really risks a downturn, companies ought to hoard cash. Instead Costco and others are giving it to shareholders while tax rates are low. That’s fine, but suggests the hype is overdone.

The 1 pct find a way to stimulate themselves

December 5, 2012

Special dividends are coming thick and fast in the U.S. to avoid higher tax rates in 2013. Oracle’s Larry Ellison and the Waltons of Wal-Mart are among the beneficiaries. Payouts may have saved recipients $5 bln so far. Uncle Sam might have put that to work fixing infrastructure.

Dividend reform won’t fix China SOE money-go-round

February 6, 2013

State-owned firms hoard cash, but making them hand over more of their earnings won’t help. Many already pay more than required, and profit figures can be fudged. Besides, the cash is currently recycled to other SOEs. Reform should start by channeling dividends to better causes.

U.S. bank dividends face a long slog upwards

November 17, 2010

A return to boom-time dividends remains distant for investors in U.S. banks. Banks accounted for almost a third of all dividends paid by S&P 500 companies in 2007. That is set to drop to just 8.9 percent this year, according to Standard & Poor's.

European CEOs should avoid starving capex for divis

August 13, 2013

Corporate Europe is struggling to grow earnings as fast as dividends. That won’t matter if revenue picks up. The risk is that CEOs cut capex to protect precious income-growth records. It would be better to swallow payout pride today than cut investment in the payouts of tomorrow.

The no-return decade in stocks makes dividends look good

December 30, 2009

Investors may bemoan their misfortune in the past decade, especially when they consider annual inflation of 2.5 percent in the period, compared to annual deflation of 2 percent in the 1930s. But they can take two small comforts.