Those who thought the February reporting season was just "meh" probably weren't looking at their dividend checks as the 20 biggest dividend payers on our market will dish out $15.5 billion in payouts in March and April.
That is 5.2% ahead of the same time last year, according to data from Bell Potter's trading desk (Coppo Report).
The dividend hero from the reporting season is mining giant BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) as it produced the biggest increase in interim shareholder distributions in absolute terms. It is setting aside $2.23 billion to pay shareholders compared to $1.68 billion it paid in 1HFY17 – that's around a one-third increase.
But if you used percentage change as a benchmark, then the dividend crown has to be handed to passive aluminium investment holding company Alumina Limited (ASX: AWC), which saw a 193.8% surge in interim dividend payments to $341.1 million.
That equates to a 5.1% yield just on the half year dividend alone!
Dividend Kings: The 20 most generous dividend payers
You might notice a trend here. Resource companies are dominating the league table. Alumina is ranked number three on absolute dollar increases to its dividends and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) slots in behind BHP, as it bolstered its half year payout by nearly $250 million to $942.5 million.
Miners are replacing traditional dividend favourites! BHP now pays out more in dividends than Australia's largest telco Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS), which had to cut its interim dividend by over $500 million to $1.31 billion.
It's hard to imagine, but Telstra paid more in dividends than BHP did last year!
Perhaps the more important question is whether BHP can topple the dividend king on the ASX – Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA).
Australia's largest mortgage lender squeezed out 2.2% more in interim dividends and is handing out $3.51 billion back to shareholders this year. That's around a $1.3 billion difference to BHP.
However, with the Big Australian tipped to deliver even more in cash handouts to shareholders in 2018 and with the big four banks facing mounting headwinds, BHP has a real chance to become the ASX's most generous dividend paying company.
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