Dividends recover for Saudi Arabia’s 10 biggest companies after pandemic: Year in Review

Dividends recover for Saudi Arabia’s 10 biggest companies after pandemic: Year in Review
The Kingdom’s oil giant Aramco dominates the bourse, compromising over sr7 trillion in market value. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 January 2022

Dividends recover for Saudi Arabia’s 10 biggest companies after pandemic: Year in Review

Dividends recover for Saudi Arabia’s 10 biggest companies after pandemic: Year in Review
  • The top 10 players on the Saudi bourse paid out stable to higher dividends in 2021, attracting investors who want a reliable income amid global uncertainties brought by the pandemic

RIYADH: The past twelve months saw a period recovery for the dividends Saudi Arabia’s listed firms paid out to investors, as the economy gained traction after the outbreak COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

It remains to be seen how the omicron variant will weigh on the bounce business experienced earlier this year after vaccination rollouts and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The top 10 players on the Saudi bourse paid out stable-to-higher dividends in 2021, attracting investors who want a reliable income amid global uncertainties brought by the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The largest 10 firms are made up of four energy and material giants, four banks, a utility provider, and one telecom company, which operate relatively steadily and have a collective market capitalization that tops $2 trillion.

• The Kingdom’s oil giant Aramco dominates the bourse, compromising over SR7 trillion ($1.86 trillion) in market value. Aramco’s dividend payout was unchanged from a year earlier, and paid each shareholder SR1.05 per share for the first nine months of 2021. This brought the trailing dividend yield to nearly 4 percent on a share price of SR35.

Fueled by rebounding crude prices, the oil giant’s net profit more than doubled during the first nine months compared to the same period a year ago, reaching as much as SR279 billion.

Chemicals manufacturer Saudi Basic Industries Corp., known as SABIC, and worth above SR341 billion, said it would pay out SR6.75 billion — SR2.25 per share — as a dividend to shareholders in the second half of 2021.

The industrial firm’s recommendation brings the annual dividend payout per share to SR4, from SR3 in 2020. The hike followed strong financial results for the first nine months of 2021, which saw SABIC swing to a profit of SR18.1 billion from a SR2. 6 billion loss a year ago — mainly driven by income from joint ventures.

The Kingdom’s banking leaders — Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi National Bank, Riyad Bank, and the Saudi British Bank — all declared higher dividend payments in the year to date.

Al Rajhi Bank, one of the 15 largest banks globally by market value, paid out SR3.5 billion — or SR1.4 per share — as a dividend for the first half of 2021, in contrast to just SR1 per share for the entire 2020. This came as it announced a 44 percent jump in net profits to SR10.73 billion for the nine months to Sept. 30, 2021.

Saudi’s second-largest bank, Saudi National Bank distributed SR0.65 per share for the first half of this year. This compared to a net annual dividend per share of SR0.8 for the whole of 2020, meaning that its half-year payout lifted 62.5 percent year-on-year.

Saudi Telecom Co., or stc, paid out quarterly dividends totaling SR3 per share for the first three quarters of 2021, matching last year’s rate. This resulted in a 3.6 percent trailing dividend yield on a stock price of SR110.8.

Six-year data reported by the telecom operator revealed a stable trend in terms of the net annual dividend per share, fluctuating between SR4 and SR6 since 2016.

Since 2005, Saudi Electricity Co. has provided a safe dividend haven for shareholders, offering regular annual payouts of SR0.7 per share even amid high volatility. In 2021, the dividend yield came in at 3 percent on a share price of SR110.

The Gulf’s largest miner Arabian Mining Co., known as Ma’aden, has withheld dividends to finance growth since listing in 2008. The company posted a profit of SR3.14 billion in the first nine months of this year, swinging from a net loss of SR781 million in the year-ago period.

The eighth biggest listed firm in the Kingdom SABIC Agri-Nutrients, yielded 2.5 percent on a stock price of SR172, and offered its highest dividend policy since 2015 this year. The petrochemical firm’s payout jumped 113 percent year-on-year to hit SR4.25 per share.

Despite moderate dividend yields, most of these big companies have enjoyed long records of consistent growth and steady payments — a good bet for risk-averse investors.


Macro Snapshot — Britain’s private sector activity slows; Japan’s May factory activity grows at slowest rate in 3 months 

Macro Snapshot — Britain’s private sector activity slows; Japan’s May factory activity grows at slowest rate in 3 months 
Updated 24 May 2022

Macro Snapshot — Britain’s private sector activity slows; Japan’s May factory activity grows at slowest rate in 3 months 

Macro Snapshot — Britain’s private sector activity slows; Japan’s May factory activity grows at slowest rate in 3 months 

RIYADH: Momentum in Britain’s private sector slowed much more than expected this month, adding to recession worries as inflation pressures ratcheted higher, according to a business survey on Tuesday that showed rising pessimism.

S&P Global’s flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a monthly gauge of the services and manufacturing industries, slumped to 51.8 in May from 57.6 in April, its lowest level since February last year.

The preliminary reading was worse than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists, which had pointed to a drop to 57, and the scale of the fall was bigger than any seen pre-COVID-19.

“The collapse in the composite PMI in May is the clearest sign yet that demand is faltering in response to the intense squeeze on households’ real disposable incomes,” said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Until now, most surveys of British business activity had been fairly robust, despite record-low consumer confidence after inflation hit a 40-year high of 9 percent.

US new home sales fall

Sales of new US single-family homes tumbled to a two-year low in April, likely as higher mortgage rates and soaring prices squeezed first-time buyers and those in search of entry-level properties out of the housing market.

New home sales plunged 16.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000 units last month, the lowest level since April 2020, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. March’s sales pace was revised down to 709,000 units from the previously reported 763,000 units.

Sales have now declined for four straight months. New home sales dropped 5.9 percent in the Northeast and tumbled 15.1 percent in the Midwest. They plummeted 19.8 percent in the densely populated South and decreased 13.8 percent in the Midwest.

Nigeria raises interest rate 

Nigeria’s central bank on Tuesday raised the benchmark interest rate by 150 basis points to 13 percent, its first hike in more than two years, to combat rising inflation, sending markets tumbling.

The move surprised analysts and traders who expected the Monetary Policy Committee to keep the rate on hold.

But Gov. Godwin Emefiele told a news briefing that the rate hike was necessary to tame inflation, which quickened to 16.82 percent in April, its highest in eight months, amid a fragile economic recovery.

Indonesia holds rates

Indonesia’s central bank announced on Tuesday more aggressive hikes in the reserve requirement ratio for banks, expecting inflation to rise slightly above its target band this year, but kept interest rates unchanged at a record low.

Bank Indonesia announced a quicker pace in RRR hikes, ordering banks to park 7.5 percent of their reserves starting July and 9 percent from September. This compared with BI’s previously announced policy path, in which BI had set three staggered RRR hikes this year from 3.5 percent to 6.5 percent in September.

BI left the benchmark 7-day reverse repurchase rate at a record low of 3.50 percent, as expected by 25 of 27 economists polled by Reuters. Its two other main rates were also unchanged. 

Poland budget surplus

Poland had a budget surplus of 9.2 billion zlotys ($2.14 billion) at the end April, state-run news agency PAP quoted Finance Minister Magdalena Rzeczkowska as saying on Tuesday.

Poland had a deficit of 0.3 billion zlotys at the end of March.

Separately, a government spokesman said that the deficit at the end of 2021 was 26.4 billion zlotys, 65.1 percent of what had been planned for in the budget.

Philippines narrows growth target 

The Philippines has revised its 2022 gross domestic product growth target to 7 percent-8 percent from the previous range of 7 percent-9 percent to take into account external risks, the government said on Tuesday.

It also slightly lowered the budget deficit target to 7.6 percent of GDP from 7.7 percent, among revisions that it said took into account the impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict, China’s slowdown, and monetary policy normalization in the US.

The government, however, kept the GDP growth target at the 6 percent-7 percent range for 2023 and 2024, as it expects the domestic economy to sustain its strong recovery in the medium term.

GDP would grow at the same pace in 2025, the economic managers on the Development Budget Coordination Committee said.

German inflation to reach 7%

Germany’s 2022 inflation rate will more than double from last year’s 3.1 percent as already high energy and food prices are pushed up by the war in Ukraine, the country’s Chambers of Industry and Commerce said on Tuesday.

DIHK said it now expects the inflation rate to hit 7 percent, after initially forecasting a rise of 3.5 percent in its February forecast.

Germany’s Economy Ministry said in April it saw an inflation rate of 6.1 percent in 2022 and 2.8 percent next year, citing the effects of energy prices in Europe’s biggest economy.

French business activity 

French business activity slowed slightly in May compared to the previous month, a preliminary survey showed on Tuesday, as inflationary pressures took the shine off fewer COVID-19 restrictions.

S&P Global said its flash May Purchasing Managers’ Index for France’s services sector was 58.4 points — down from a final number of 58.9 in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 58.6 for the May flash reading.

Japan’s factory activity grows 

Japan’s manufacturing activity expanded at the slowest pace in three months in May, as supply bottlenecks due to parts shortages and China’s COVID-19 lockdowns caused output and new orders growth to slow.

Activity in the services sector improved for the second consecutive month on stronger domestic demand due to the fading impact of the pandemic, though service-sector firms faced a drag from the sharpest rise in input prices on record.

 

(With input from Reuters) 


ITFC boosts funds for Egypt by $3bn to deal with rising wheat prices

ITFC boosts funds for Egypt by $3bn to deal with rising wheat prices
Updated 24 May 2022

ITFC boosts funds for Egypt by $3bn to deal with rising wheat prices

ITFC boosts funds for Egypt by $3bn to deal with rising wheat prices

RIYADH: The International Islamic Trade Finance Corp. has provided Egypt an additional $3 billion to support the North African country amid soaring wheat prices fueled by the Ukraine war.

As per the new agreement, Egypt’s total funding is now doubled to $6 billion, Bloomberg reported citing Egypt’s Supply Minister Aly El-Moselhy in his interview with the MBC TV channel.

The government is also offering incentives to farmers to produce wheat and also setting an output quota to tackle the shortage of the grain primarily driven due to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine. Farmers will not be allowed to sell the rest of their crops outside the official procurement system without a license. 

Egypt is one of the biggest importers of wheat in the world, and most of the grains come from Ukraine and Russia. 

After Russia started invading Ukraine wheat prices soared, and the Egyptian government is seeking to maintain price stability and secure reserves of basic foodstuffs amid the fallout from the war.


BNY Mellon slapped with $1.5m fines in ESG case

BNY Mellon slapped with $1.5m fines in ESG case
Updated 24 May 2022

BNY Mellon slapped with $1.5m fines in ESG case

BNY Mellon slapped with $1.5m fines in ESG case

RIYADH: The US Securities and Exchange Commission has slapped  BNY Mellon, the corporate investment banking company, $1.5 million fines over an environmental, social and governance case.

The New York-based company had reportedly distorted and cut information about ESG investment considerations for mutual funds that it managed, according to the Financial Times. 

From July 2018 to September 2021, BNY Mellon has been stating that all investments in the funds had gone through an ESG quality review, but the SEC stated that was not always the case. 


Cloudflare to open first Middle East regional office in Dubai

Cloudflare to open first Middle East regional office in Dubai
Updated 24 May 2022

Cloudflare to open first Middle East regional office in Dubai

Cloudflare to open first Middle East regional office in Dubai

DUBAI: San Francisco-based Cloudflare has announced that it will open its first regional office in the Middle East in Dubai, as the firm further aims to support its EMEA operations, the company said in a press release.

The company also appointed Bashar Bashaireh as its first managing director for the Middle East and Turkey.

“This has always been an important region for us with an emerging, young population hungry for content delivered at high Internet bandwidth, and Dubai is home to one of our 27 data centers located in the Middle East and Turkey,” said Andy Lockhart, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa Sales at Cloudflare.

The new Dubai-based team will help the company grow brand awareness, acquire and support customers, and recruit new talent.

Bashar Bashaireh said: “With digital transformation and increased cloud adoption, organizations are in need for a fast, secure and reliable Internet, more than ever, to optimally serve and secure their customers, partners, and employees, and Cloudflare is leading this transition.”

Founded in 2010, Cloudflare acts as a reverse proxy between a website’s visitor and the Cloudflare customer’s hosting provider. The company calls itself a security, performance, and reliability firm.


UAE’s Cypher Capital invests $5m in Ocean Protocol ecosystem projects

UAE’s Cypher Capital invests $5m in Ocean Protocol ecosystem projects
Updated 24 May 2022

UAE’s Cypher Capital invests $5m in Ocean Protocol ecosystem projects

UAE’s Cypher Capital invests $5m in Ocean Protocol ecosystem projects

RIYADH: UAE-based venture capital firm Cypher Capital has set up an ecosystem fund with the data exchange and monetization platform Ocean protocol to allocate $5 million in its projects.

The open-source protocol facilitates the exchange and monetization of data and data-based services, allowing people to buy and share information securely while preserving privacy, according to a statement. 

Cypher Capital will review Ocean Protocol’s proposals and its $5 million investment will be spread across 20 projects over 24 months, or two or three investments of a minimum of a quarter-million dollars per quarter if a project is recommended by the Ocean Protocol team.

“Cypher Capital’s commitment to invest in the Ocean Protocol ecosystem is a recognition of the potential of a new data economy and Ocean’s leading role in the space,” founder Bruce Pon said. 

“The Ocean ecosystem has generated a pipeline of promising projects which are nearing viability for seed funding. Meanwhile, Cypher Capital brings deep connections with the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia,” he added. 

Cypher Capital is a venture capital firm that focuses on crypto, blockchain, and digital asset-related projects worldwide.