Russian metal-makers increased the payment of dividends

Oil and gas companies so far account for about a third of total dividend payments by Russian companies, but have already reduced them by 15%. The leader in dividends is still MMC Norilsk Nickel with 141 billion rubles.
Dividends of non-financial companies for 2016 grew by 9% compared to 2015 to 1.5 trillion rubles., Analysts of ACRA estimated. The share of net profit allocated to payments to shareholders was 32%.

The metallurgical and mining sectors showed the greatest growth, the companies of which paid shareholders 37% more than in 2015 (453 billion rubles). Oil and gas and telecommunications companies reduced their payments by 15 and 14% respectively. The largest share in the structure of dividends is still occupied by oil and gas companies - they account for 40% of payments, or 574 billion rubles. Metallurgy and mining sector occupied 31%, in third place telecommunications companies with a share of 10%. Dividends of transport and electric power companies remain low.

Since 2013, dividends of metallurgical and mining companies have grown 3.2 times, writes ACRA. In 2016, Alrosa helped to increase the results to these sectors: its payments to shareholders increased 4-fold to 66 billion rubles. But the largest dividends are still paid by Norilsk Nickel - 141 billion rubles. (+ 4% compared to 2015). The growth of dividends in the industry is due to a decrease in the debt burden and the capex passed by the peak, ACRA writes. But this source of growth is exhausting itself, analysts warn. At the end of 2016, the industry average ratio of total debt to operating cash flow (FFO) before interest and tax payments was 2.4 against 4 in 2013. Further reduction of the debt burden is unlikely, the survey said. The ratio of dividends to free cash flow (FCF) to payments on the sector increased from 54 to 71%. The rest of the FCF should go to repay the debt, so the sources for dividend growth in the sector are declining. Their growth is possible only due to a significant increase in prices for products of ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, but the probability of this is small, estimated in ACRA. In the iron and steel industry, high steel prices, low investment programs and debt burden push companies to a more active dividend policy, agrees Renaissance Capital analyst Vladimir Sklyar. In non-ferrous metallurgy, the situation for companies is different, he notes. For example, UC Rusal after refinancing debt can afford to increase dividends, and Norilsk Nickel will only struggle for their preservation, Alrosa is likely to reduce its dividend payments in 2018, Sklyar said.

Analysts of ACRA noted the growth of dividends of state-owned companies by 25% compared to 2015 to 640 billion rubles. The average share of dividends from net profit for the year increased from 23 to 26%, and excluding Gazprom and Rosneft from 17 to 32%. The state succeeds in increasing the dividend payments of state companies for the second year in a row, but it is not yet possible to achieve dividend payments, which are budgeted for, the review says. Without taking into account Rosneftegaz, state companies were to pay about 300 billion rubles. In the state budget, but in fact this amount amounted to 275 billion rubles. Significantly less than expected were the dividends of Gazprom, Transneft and Almaz-Antey, analysts say ACRA.

The share of Gazprom and Rosneft in the structure of payments by state-owned companies decreased from 60% in 2015 to 40% in 2016. They have more opportunities to defend the state's need for investment in projects, unlike other state-owned companies, suggests ACRA. Oil and gas companies in the first half of 2017 showed better results than the same period last year, but the situation with dividends for the year is unlikely to radically change, said Sergei Pikin, director of the Energy Development Fund.

Significantly increased payments to shareholders in 2016, the company's electricity sector, adds Sklyar: the largest generation companies paid shareholders about 58 billion rubles. - growth of almost 80%. At the grid companies, the dividend flow also showed growth, though not so significant, we can expect the continuation of this trend, he notes. Payments of generating companies may grow to 85-87 billion rubles., Estimates Sklyar.

In general, large businesses are now able to keep spending on the investment program at a stable level. But in the absence of any additional sources, the increase in dividend payments is possible only due to the reduction of the investment program or by increasing the debt, which may lead to a deterioration in the credit profile of the companies, analysts conclude.