UK dividends rose 18.4% in Q2 2012 to reach a record high of £22.6bn, fuelled by special dividends and strong underlying growth, according to the latest Capita Dividend Monitor.
The figure, which surpasses the previous Q2 high of £22bn seen in 2007, contributed to a record total H1 payout of £41.4bn, a rise of 21.1% year-on-year and well up on the previous record of £34.5bn set in 2008.
Special dividends "flattered the total again", the report said, reaching £1.5bn in Q2 largely thanks to Old Mutual's £1bn payout, but underlying growth of 14.5% was also strong.
Such trends have promoted Capita to increase its headline forecast for 2012 as a whole to a record £78.3bn, a 15.1% rise on 2011 and ahead of the pre-crisis peak of £77bn seen in 2008.
Having trimmed its estimates in April, the prediction is now roughly in line with Capita's January estimates. But the forecaster warned growth rates are unlikely to be repeated in 2013.
"With the huge additional specials in 2012, it will be hard for dividends to grow rapidly in 2013. Capita's model is indicating £79bn-£81bn next year."
FTSE 100 companies paid out £19.9bn in the second quarter, a rise of 19%, while a FTSE 250 dividend growth rate of 12.9% reversed a 9% Q1 decline Capita said was largely due to technical factors.
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