Standard & Poor's is estimating cash dividends will set another record in 2005, paying out $21.80 per share compared with $19.44 for 2004.
The 12.2 percent increase translates into a $203 billion aggregate payment, compared with a payment of $181 billion in 2004.
Within the S&P 500, 74 issues have increased their rate this year compared with 52 in 2004 and 41 in 2003.
"For 2005, Standard & Poor's sees a continuation in both dividend increases and initiations," says Howard Silverblatt, equity market analyst, Standard & Poor's. "At the end of 2002, only 351 issues in the S&P 500 paid a dividend. We now have 378 issues in the S&P 500 paying dividends, with additional constituents having significant ability to increase and initiate."
Standard & Poor's is a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies.