BOOM: Companies put record amount in shareholder pockets… Stocks up 12% this year, but nearly half of Americans think they’re down!

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The first quarter of 2024 has shattered records. Corporate giants like Alibaba and Meta have made history with their inaugural dividend payments. In a dramatic twist, Janus Henderson’s report unveiled a staggering $339.2 billion in dividends paid out by the world’s top 1,200 companies from January to March. This marks a 2.4% increase compared to the same period last year, signaling an era of unprecedented financial bounty.

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The banking sector surged ahead with a 12% gain, fueling a quarter of the overall increase. Yet, the spotlight shone brightest on Alibaba and Meta. Their debut payments of $2.6 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively, accounted for half of the first quarter’s growth. Meta’s strategy was particularly striking, dedicating just 20% of its profits to dividends, the rest bolstering shareholder returns through aggressive stock buybacks.

Amid this financial triumph, a perplexing narrative emerged. Stocks have soared 12% this year, yet nearly half of Americans believe they’ve plummeted. A poll conducted by Harris for the Guardian revealed a stark disconnect. Despite the S&P 500 reaching record highs, 49% of respondents mistakenly thought it was down. This dichotomy highlights a growing chasm between economic reality and public perception, casting a shadow over the robust market performance.

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