Following the Kremlin's decision to force state companies to increase their dividend payments, Russian companies are paying more to shareholders compared with other emerging markets since 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The Kremlin is on the hunt for new sources of revenue as the budget scrapes by on a tiny surplus and President Vladimir Putin has lent on state-owned companies, demanding they halt their wasteful ways and actually produce a profit for their main shareholder - the state.
With the government's privatisation programme apparently restarted with the secondary share offering from Sberbank on Tuesday, September 19, the state hopes to extract around $12bn of cash from the companies before their sold.
Rosneft just announced it would increase dividend payments to 25% of profits and Sberbank is already paying out record dividends over the last year and will boost distributions by 16% in the next 12 months.
The increased dividend payments have increased Russia's dividend yields to 3.8% compared with the emerging market average of 3.1% for the MSCI index, Bloomberg says.
Investors have long complained that Russian companies' low dividend payments has been a major factor in holding down the value of Russian stocks. As the new policy trickles through the system, it could well result in lifting Russian share prices across the board.
Indeed, those companies paying higher dividends have already outperformed the overall market handsomely over the last year. The 25 stocks in the Micex Index paying cash dividends this year returned an average 14% in Moscow trading, versus a 12% drop for the five non-payers, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
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