Walt Disney (DIS) will suspend its semi-annual dividend in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company last raised its dividend by 4.8 percent to $0.88 per share in the fourth quarter of 2018. The dividend suspension by Disney will end a track record of 10 consecutive years of dividend increases.
In its press release announcing first quarter 2020 results Disney announces that the company's board has decided to forgo the next semi-annual cash dividend given the significant operational and financial disruption caused by COVID-19.
The company states that the dividend suspension is one of several measures the company has taken in the wake of the pandemic, including reducing capital spending, cutting salaries for senior management, and making the difficult decision to furlough employees. By not issuing a semi-annual dividend, the company will preserve about $1.6 billion in cash, based on the 88 cents a share previously paid to shareholders in January.
Walt Disney last paid a semi-annual dividend of $0.88 per share on January 16, 2020 to shareholders of record on December 16, 2019. The ex-date for this last dividend was December 13, 2019.
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries, is an entertainment company with operations in four business segments: Media Networks; Parks, Experiences and Products; Studio Entertainment; and Direct-to-Consumer & International (DTCI). In November 2019, the company launched Disney+, a subscription based direct-to-consumer video streaming service with Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic branded programming. The company's brands also include ABC, ESPN, Twentieth Century Fox, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, Freeform and FX. Prior to the 2020 dividend suspension Walt Disney had increased its dividend every year since 2010.