Special Dividends Are On The Rise — Here's What to Know About Them

More companies are paying out special dividends this year. Here's what that means.

woman putting coin in silver piggy bank
(Image credit: Getty)

The first half of 2023 was exciting for investors, as a new bull market was born and tech stocks went on a tear. Even supposedly staid dividends got a little spicier, as 36 firms in the broad-market S&P 1500 index paid out special dividends – extra, one-time payments on top of their regular dividend payouts – from January through June, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. That's the highest rate in at least six years. 

Redistributing windfall cash via special dividends is a fairly common practice among energy and commodity companies. This year, investors also received extra payouts from firms including Ford (F), Host Hotels & Resorts (HST) and truck maker Paccar (PCAR). And more bonuses are likely coming. Costco Wholesale (COST) has been building up cash and is expected by many analysts to soon distribute much of that to shareholders, for example.

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The number of S&P 1500 companies paying special dividends each year

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Kim Clark
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Kim Clark is a veteran financial journalist who has worked at Fortune, U.S News & World Report and Money magazines. She was part of a team that won a Gerald Loeb award for coverage of elder finances, and she won the Education Writers Association's top magazine investigative prize for exposing insurance agents who used false claims about college financial aid to sell policies. As a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University, she studied delivery of digital news and information. Most recently, she worked as a deputy director of the Education Writers Association, leading the training of higher education journalists around the country. She is also a prize-winning gardener, and in her spare time, picks up litter.