Back at the February all-time highs prior to the pandemic bear market, the median dividend yield for S&P 500 stocks was 2.19%. With the S&P 500 back at all-time highs, the median yield is now down to just 1.65%. As shown in the chart below, the trailing 12-month dividend yield spiked to 2.7% at the March 23rd low, but with the market’s rapid rally and some companies cutting their payouts, that yield has ground lower and now stands at just 1.72%. In just this past week, it took out the mid-January low around 1.77% and is now at the lowest levels since November of 2004.
As we have in the past, in the charts below we plot the S&P 500 dividend yield versus the yield on the 10 year Treasury. The past few years have seen some back and forth between which of these assets yield more, but since mid-January, equities have been the clear leader. Even though the dividend yield is at some of its lowest levels in over 15 years and the 10 year Treasury has seen a significant rally this month with its yield now at 0.728%, equities still yield over a full percentage point more than the 10 year Treasury. That difference in yields is well off the peak of 192 bps at the bear market low on March 23rd, but even with that decline, the spread remains well above any period outside the past few months and the Global Financial Crisis. Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options for our best research available.