The head of FTSE 100 investment giant Standard Life Aberdeen (LSE:SLA) says paying its 10% yield is an essential moral duty.
But as I write, more than 30 FTSE 100 companies have scrapped forthcoming dividend payments. 2020’s total payout will fall to £64bn, down from £85bn in 2018 and £75bn last year.
This leaves income investors in a very difficult position. Tens of thousands of older investors rely heavily on dividends to pay their household bills. Previous high-yield favourites like the big banks HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds, have bowed to regulatory pressure and abandoned their 2020 dividend plans.
FTSE 100 income falling
Standard Life CEO Keith Skeoch has said in an interview that companies must pay the dividends they promised.
He told CNBC on Friday 17 April: “There is a substantial part of our society that is dependent on retirement income, and dividends, particularly at the time when interest rates are incredibly low, are an important part of that support for retirement income.”
He is right, you know. The Bank of England has now slashed interest rates to their lowest level in the 300-year history of the institution. So holding cash does absolutely nothing to improve your lot. With inflation, the purchasing power of your money will actually decrease the longer you hold it. Instead, set it to work in the stock market. That is the best chance you have to grow your wealth.
Skeoch’s comments were a shot across the bow for the likes of former FTSE 100 dividend specialists like Aviva, which surprised the market by cutting its final payout.
Rival FTSE 100 insurer Legal & General, by contrast, committed to paying its 8.5% yield and handed out £753m to investors.
As mentioned, in the interview, Skeoch added that there was a “moral obligation” to pay the 10% yield. And that he had to balance “the economic impact and our stewardship obligations“.
I like his thinking. Dividends are the basis for most income investment decisions. They are obligations, not nice-to-haves. How many income investors might not return to Aviva when it abandoned them during the coronavirus crash? When they needed that money the most?
The shares that have enough financial ammunition to carry out their dividend plans will jump straight to the top of investors’ must-buy lists.
And Standard Life Aberdeen shares are 30.3% cheaper than they were three months ago. To me, that represents an incredibly good value buying opportunity.
Turn 20 into 139
We already know that a buy-and-hold strategy works best because of compounding and regular investing.
Standard Life pays a 21.6p dividend per share annually. At a share price of 216p, that yield is exactly 10%.
A £20,000 lump sum investment that returns 10% a year will produce £45,220 after 10 years. But add just £100 a month on top, and that figure jumps to £63,829. With an extra £250 a month in your Stocks and Shares ISA or SIPP, that single investment could yield £91,744 after a decade of compounding. Increase the additional stake to £500 a month and in 10 years your total could be £138,269.
Even if the Standard Life share price grows to 300p as the economy recovers, that dividend per share will still represent a 7.2% yield. And buyers now will get the dual benefit of dividend income and capital appreciation.
To me, that’s a good deal by any estimation.
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Tom Rodgers has no current position in the shares covered. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.