Ross Stores (ROST) will suspend its dividend in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dividend Aristocrat had raised its quarterly dividend by 11.8 percent to $0.285 per share earlier this year, marking the 26th consecutive year of dividend increases by the off-price retailer.
Ross reported first quarter results today and announced the phased reopening of its stores in a press release dated May 21. The company also announced several additional actions, which include the suspension of the company's quarterly dividend program and reduced new store openings for the year.
Because of the dividend suspension Ross will no longer be a Dividend Aristocrat. Ross was added to Standard & Poors' renowned Dividend Aristocrats Index earlier this year with 25 consecutive years of dividend hikes. It is probably the shortest period ever that an Aristocrat is removed after being included in the index.
Ross was known for its above average dividend hikes over the last couple of decades, with double digit dividend increases announced every year since at least 2007, according to our own data. Last year's dividend hike of 13.3 percent followed a 40.6 percent dividend hike announced in 2018. With an average dividend increase of 24.9 percent over the last ten years Ross led all other U.S. listed Aristocrats.
In 2020 Ross is the first 'real' Dividend Aristocrat to cut its dividend, but there are several other high profile dividend payers that have suspended or cut their dividend earlier this year, including retail REIT Tanger Factory Outlet Center (27 years of dividend increases), Media company Meredith Corp (27 years) and oil services company Helmerich & Payne (48 consecutive years of dividend increases).
Ross Stores, Inc. is an off-price apparel and home fashion chain. The company operates two brands of off-price retail apparel and home fashion stores: Ross Dress for Less and dd’s DISCOUNTS. Ross offers name brand and designer apparel, accessories, footwear, and home fashions for the entire family at savings of 20% to 60% off department and specialty store regular prices every day. Ross' target customers are primarily from middle income households. dd's DISCOUNTS features name brand apparel, accessories, footwear, and home fashions at savings of 20% to 70% off moderate department and discount store regular prices. Ross Stores has locations in the United States, the District of Columbia and Guam. Ross Stores had been paying a dividend every year since 1994 and had hiked its dividend 26 consecutive years before the suspension in the second quarter 2020 was announced.