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Dividends are drying up – but not for these ASX shares

Dividends are being slashed as the economic impact of coronavirus takes its toll. Portfolios set up to harvest dividends are seeing returns diminish as dividend stalwarts defer or cancel dividends. For retirees reliant on dividend income to cover living expenses, the impact is serious.  

The banks have long been a favourite of ASX dividend investors due to their relatively high yields. But National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) slashed its interim dividend to 30 cents per share, down from 83 cents last year. Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) has chosen to defer its 2020 interim dividend decision until greater clarity emerges regarding the economic impact of COVID-19. 

According to analysis cited by the Australian Financial Review, 7 of Australia’s largest financial services companies have either cut or deferred dividends over the past couple of months.

So where does a dividend investor go in the current market? We take a look at 2 ASX shares that are still paying solid dividends. 

Amcor PLC (ASX: AMC)

Amcor upgraded its guidance yesterday, with profit growth of 11% to 12% forecast, up from 7% to 10%. The business is benefitting from geographic and product diversity which has underpinned its defensive earnings profile. 

Amcor develops and produces packaging for food, beverage, pharmaceutical, home and personal care products. Net sales in the March quarter increased to US$3,141 million, up from US$2,310 million in the March 2019 quarter. Earnings per share increased to 11.4 US cents from 9.7 US cents in the prior corresponding period. 

Amcor has benefitted from the demand for packaging of food and healthcare products. A quarterly cash dividend of 11.5 US cents per share will be paid, unfranked, which works out to 17.7 Australian cents per share. 

AusNet Services Ltd (ASX: AST)

AusNet delivered improved financial performance in the full year to 31 March 2020, with revenues up 6.2% to $1,978 million. This was driven by increased underlying revenues and customer contributions. Despite an overall increase in expenses, underlying operational expenditures declined through the delivery of efficiency initiatives. 

As an infrastructure company operating regulated assets, AusNet has defensive properties which help shield it from the coronavirus crisis. Net profit after tax increased 14.5% to $290.7 million in FY20. A dividend of 5.1 cents per share has been declared, 50% franked. This takes the full-year dividend to 10.2 cents per share, up 4.9% from 9.72 cents in FY19. 

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Motley Fool contributor Kate O'Brien has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Amcor Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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