Listed firms’ interim dividends projected to rise 4%

JIJI

Combined interim dividend payments by major companies that close their books in March are projected to rise 4 percent from a year before to ¥2.56 trillion, according to a survey by Jiji Press.

The rosy figures came in spite of an estimated fall in the firms’ combined recurring profits for the April-September first half due to the European financial crisis and a slowdown in the Chinese economy. The survey covered 1,273 firms listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Companies, especially those chiefly dependent on domestic demand, are “continuing to return their earnings to shareholders,” said Shinobu Yonezawa, a senior quant analyst at the Mizuho Securities Research & Consulting.

Of the 1,273 firms, 277, or some 20 percent, including telecommunications carriers, railway operators and retailers, will increase their interim dividends.

Leading mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. will raise its dividends by ¥200 from a year before to ¥3,000 per share, while rival Softbank Corp. is set to start paying interim dividends from the latest fiscal first-half period.

On the back of strong earnings, East Japan Railway Co., West Japan Railway Co. and Central Japan Railway Co. will also increase midterm dividends.

Among export-oriented firms, Fujifilm Holdings Corp. and auto parts maker Denso Corp. will raise their payouts.

On the other hand, 55 firms plan to cut their interim dividend payments. Among them, four power companies — Kansai Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Hokkaido Electric Power Co. — will forgo dividends.