Should you buy dividend slashers Barclays plc, Rolls-Royce Holding plc and WM Morrison Supermarkets plc?

Today I am looking at the dividend outlook of three FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE: UKX) giants.

Market mayhem

Rather than sending investors heading for the hills, engineering giant Rolls-Royce’s (LSE: RR) decision to slash the dividend in February sent the share price rocketing.

Rolls-Royce elected to halve the final dividend for 2015, to 7.1p per share, marking the first reduction for almost a quarter of a century and resulting in a full-year reward of 16.37p. By comparison 2014’s dividend clocked in at 23.1p.

‘Double-R’ advised that a similar reduction can be expected in this year’s interim dividend. As such, the City has pencilled in a total payout of 12.8p per share for 2016, resulting in a frankly-uninspiring yield of 2%. And I do not expect payouts to rise any time soon as Rolls-Royce battles serious market challenges.

Indeed, CEO Warren East recently noted that

despite steady market conditions for most of our businesses, 2016 continues to be a challenging year overall as we sustain investment and start to transition major products in Civil Aerospace, and tackle weak markets in Marine.”

While Rolls-Royce’s engineering excellence across many markets makes it a solid long-term selection, I believe those seeking robust income flows in the meantime should shop elsewhere.

Supermarket slumps

A backdrop of enduring earnings misery has also forced Morrisons’ (LSE: MRW) dividend policy onto the back foot. 

The Bradford grocer finally gave in to tanking revenues and a worsening balance sheet in March, scything the full-year dividend for the year to January 2015 to just 5p per share, down from 13.65p in the prior period. And I believe the probability of enduring earnings pain is set to keep dividends under pressure

Sure, the sale of Morrisons’ ‘M Local’ convenience store arm, allied with main store closures elsewhere, may have been a major contributor to like-for-like sales slumping 0.9% during February-May. But Morrisons is yet to show it has the mettle to take on Aldi and Lidl — and the pressure from the deep-discounters is only going to intensify as their expansion schemes click through the gears.

The City expects Morrisons to raise the dividend in the current period, and a 5.2p per share payment is currently forecast, yielding 2.7%. But I have little faith in such projections as trouble at Morrisons’ tills looks set to persist.

Make a deposit

Banking leviathan Barclays (LSE: BARC) shocked the market in March by slashing 2015’s dividend to 3p per share, a drastic reduction from the 6.5p reward shelled out in the prior four years.

The company cited the pressure created by the steady stream of misconduct-related charges, the bank having squirreled away £7.4bn to-date to cover the cost of mis-selling PPI alone. And Barclays has vowed to pay a similar dividend in the current year, yielding just 1.7%.

But despite this miserly yield — and the prospect of escalating misconduct charges ahead of a possible 2018 claims deadline — I reckon Barclays remains a strong selection for stock chasers.

While the company’s Investment Bank may be struggling at present, I believe Barclays’ more disciplined approach in this area could deliver stunning returns in the years ahead.

And in the meantime, I reckon the company’s focus on the robust UK and US marketplaces should send earnings, and consequently dividends, chugging higher again from next year onwards.

But whether or not you share my bullish take on Barclays, I strongly recommend you check out this special Fool report that identifies what I believe is one of the hottest London-quoted dividend stocks money can buy.

Our BRAND NEW A Top Income Share report looks at a hidden FTSE superstar generating breakneck sales growth across the continent, and whose ambitious expansion plans should power dividends higher in the years ahead.

To discover more just click here and enjoy this exclusive 'wealth report.' It's 100% free and comes with no obligation.

Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Barclays. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.