Unilever Dividend History | 1929 – 2021

Unilever is a core-holding in my dividend growth portfolio and rightly so. The company offers an attractive combination of dividend yield (3.65% – March 2021) and dividend growth (5.3% 5 year average). But what really stands out to me is the full Unilever dividend history, because Unilever has been paying dividends since 1929. This is extra-ordinary and even more so when comparing it to other European Dividend Aristocrats.

What also stands out is the transparency of the company. They have published almost every annual report from 1929 until now and this is why I was able to collect the full Unilever dividend history. I simply opened up all the annual reports to data scrape every dividend announcement that I could find.

Having said that, it took me quite a bit of time, because I had to calculate most of the dividends back into today’s currency. Therefore I think that this is the most comprehensive Unilever dividend history overview that you will find on the internet.

Before you have a look at the Unilever dividend history, don’t forget to also look at my special addition of the frequently asked questions: the Dividend Growth Investor way. You will find it towards the bottom of this post and it addresses questions that are common to every dividend growth investor, but uncommon to be published by for instance Unilever investor relations.

Having said that and without further ado, hereby the full Unilever dividend history for both the tickers ULVR (London) and UNA (Amsterdam).


Read more: Unilever share price drop – is this a buying opportunity?



Unilever Dividend History

1. UNA stock [Amsterdam]

Unilever dividend history 1929 - 2021 for the una stock
Note: 2009 year in graph adjusted to show growth. See note below next table for rationale.
Yearuna dividend – Fiscal Yearuna dividend stock – Calendar YearDividend Growth YoY [fiscal year]
2020€ 1,6580€ 1,64161,00%
2019€ 1,6416€ 1,61845,99%
2018€ 1,5488€ 1,52018,01%
2017€ 1,4340€ 1,395612,00%
2016€ 1,2804€ 1,26235,99%
2015€ 1,2080€ 1,19105,96%
2014€ 1,1400€ 1,12405,95%
2013€ 1,0760€ 1,050010,70%
2012€ 0,9720€ 0,95408,00%
2011€ 0,9000€ 0,88308,17%
2010€ 0,8320€ 0,819079,12%
2009€ 0,4645€ 0,7795-39,68%*
2008€ 0,7700€ 0,76002,67%
2007€ 0,7500€ 0,72007,14%
2006€ 0,7000€ 0,67006,06%
2005€ 0,6600€ 0,64004,76%
2004€ 0,6300€ 0,59338,62%
2003€ 0,5800€ 0,58002,35%
2002€ 0,5667€ 0,53675,59%
2001€ 0,5367€ 0,500012,59%
2000€ 0,4767€ 0,448912,95%
1999€ 0,4220€ 0,390311,16%
1998€ 0,3797€ 0,347912,56%
1997€ 0,3373€ 0,291627,79%
1996€ 0,2639€ 0,262412,76%
1995€ 0,2341€ 0,23410,00%
1994€ 0,2341€ 0,22245,27%
1993€ 0,2224€ 0,21861,73%
1992€ 0,2186€ 0,21033,96%
1991€ 0,2103€ 0,20085,50%
1990€ 0,1993€ 0,181111,65%
1989€ 0,1785€ 0,167510,02%
1988€ 0,1622€ 0,142218,51%
1987€ 0,1369€ 0,121918,07%
1986€ 0,1159€ 0,11213,44%
1985€ 0,1121€ 0,10675,03%
1984€ 0,1067€ 0,10018,37%
1983€ 0,0985€ 0,09118,14%
1982€ 0,0911€ 0,09110,00%
1981€ 0,0911€ 0,08628,27%
1980€ 0,0841€ 0,079312,55%
1979€ 0,0747€ 0,067812,27%
1978€ 0,0666€ 0,06472,80%
1977€ 0,0647€ 0,06322,39%
1976€ 0,0632€ 0,06149,28%
1975€ 0,0579€ 0,05485,52%
1974€ 0,0548€ 0,05078,05%
1973€ 0,0507€ 0,05240,00%
1972€ 0,0507€ 0,04848,23%
1971€ 0,0469€ 0,041114,18%
1970€ 0,0411€ 0,03550,00%
1969€ 0,0411€ 0,040915,53%
1968€ 0,0355€ 0,03550,64%
1967€ 0,0353€ 0,031610,93%
1966€ 0,0318€ 0,0319-0,24%
1965€ 0,0319€ 0,03920,96%
1964€ 0,0316€ 0,029910,58%
1963€ 0,0286€ 0,026114,55%
1962€ 0,0250€ 0,02384,76%
1961€ 0,0238€ 0,02380,00%
1960€ 0,0238€ 0,02385,00%
1959€ 0,0227€ 0,01848,11%
1958€ 0,0210€ 0,022119,35%
1957€ 0,0176€ 0,01760,00%
1956€ 0,0176€ 0,015910,71%
1955€ 0,0159€ 0,01590,00%
1954€ 0,0159€ 0,01590,00%
1953€ 0,0159€ 0,014516,67%
1952€ 0,0136€ 0,01360,00%
1951€ 0,0136€ 0,01870,00%
1950€ 0,0136€ 0,010134,83%
1949€ 0,0101€ 0,01010,00%
1948€ 0,0101€ 0,01010,00%
1947€ 0,0101€ 0,01010,00%
1946€ 0,0101€ 0,0050100,00%
1945€ 0,0050€ 0,0000
1944€ 0,0000€ 0,0000
1943€ 0,0000€ 0,0000
1942€ 0,0000€ 0,0000
1941€ 0,0000€ 0,0000
1940€ 0,0000€ 0,0000-100,00%
1939€ 0,0034€ 0,0085-60,00%
1938€ 0,0085€ 0,0034
1937€ 0,0000€ 0,0020-100,00%
1936€ 0,0037€ 0,003137,50%
1935€ 0,0027€ 0,00270,00%
1934€ 0,0027€ 0,00270,00%
1933€ 0,0027€ 0,0034-33,33%
1932€ 0,0041€ 0,0048-25,00%
1931€ 0,0054€ 0,0068-20,00%
1930€ 0,0068€ 0,00680,00%
1929€ 0,0068€ 0,0027

* In 2009 Unilever decided to start paying a quarterly dividend. Technically you could argue that there was a dividend cut by purely looking at the dividend payments. But as you can see in the 3rd column, the dividend payouts have continued to grow from a calendar-year payout point of view. In this case it was good for investors, because it maintained a steady and growing cash-flow.


2. ULVR stock [London]

Yearulvr dividend – Fiscal Yearulvr stock dividend – Calendar YearDividend Growth YoY (FY)
2020148,1800145,30003,80%
2019142,7600141,65005,51%
2018135,3000133,24007,74%
2017125,5800121,710015,18%
2016109,0300104,350023,21%
201588,490087,2600-1,90%
201490,200090,6500-0,93%
201391,050089,220015,41%
201278,890077,29001,65%
201177,610076,57008,94%
201071,240070,530072,66%
200941,260064,4100-32,07%*
200860,740054,660018,84%
200751,110049,04007,24%
200647,660045,70895,60%
200545,133343,53336,06%
200442,555640,55565,92%
200340,177837,755612,72%
200235,644433,555610,32%
200132,311129,600011,25%
200029,044428,82224,56%
199927,777825,955616,82%
199823,777819,044427,08%
199718,711118,31115,09%
199617,805618,13339,01%
199516,333315,19449,66%
199414,894414,14447,11%
199313,905612,338917,35%
199211,850010,616712,62%
199110,522210,18334,30%
199010,08899,50008,42%
19899,30567,788925,00%
19887,44446,911110,84%
19876,71675,985618,16%
19865,68444,671132,47%
19854,29113,95568,73%
19843,94673,531115,10%
19833,42893,27117,04%
19823,20332,98567,29%
19812,98562,658917,29%
19802,54562,6722-4,74%
19792,67222,48229,72%
19782,43562,301110,54%
19772,20332,15002,48%
19762,15001,785641,55%
19751,51891,43009,54%
19741,38671,224413,15%
19731,22561,19780,09%
19721,22441,3089-1,61%
19711,24441,062218,96%
19701,04610,90280,43%
19691,04171,041715,38%
19680,90280,90288,33%
19670,83330,694420,00%
19660,69440,69440,00%
19650,69440,85650,00%
19640,69440,656711,11%
19630,62500,6850-13,90%
19620,72590,68945,45%
19610,68840,69350,98%
19600,68170,65978,07%
19590,63080,51398,13%
19580,58330,611120,00%
19570,48610,48610,00%
19560,48610,436111,46%
19550,43610,43610,00%
19540,43610,43610,00%
19530,43610,402816,30%
19520,37500,37500,00%
19510,37500,51390,00%
19500,37500,277835,00%
19490,27780,27780,00%
19480,27780,27780,00%
19470,27780,27780,00%
19460,27780,1389100,00%
19450,13890,0000
19440,00000,1389
19430,13890,1389
19420,13890,1389
19410,13890,1389
19400,13890,1458-50,00%
19390,27780,29860,00%
19380,27780,1111
19370,00000,1111-100,00%
19360,20370,185210,00%
19350,18520,18521,27%
19340,18290,17717,48%
19330,17010,2014-28,99%
19320,23960,2604-13,75%
19310,27780,30560,00%
19300,27780,27780,00%
19290,27780,1111

* See earlier comment about switch from bi-annual to quarterly dividends.


Frequently Asked Questions – the DGI way

Most FAQ’s on investor relations websites are not designed to answer questions from Dividend Growth Investors. Let met therefore present you with an alternative FAQ. If you miss any question in here, let me know!

Frequently asked questions

Yes, Unilever pays a dividend 4 times a year. It is one of the few European dividend aristocrats that pays a quarterly dividend.

Yes, if you are an American investor you can purchase the Unilever ADR shares with ticker symbol $UL.

As per 1 March 2021:

  • The dividend EPS payout ratio stands at 80%
  • The dividend Underlying EPS payout ratio stands at 69%
  • The dividend Free Cash Flow payout ratio stands at 59%

Unilever started to pay a dividend right from inception when the company was created. In December 1929, Unilever NV paid its first interim dividend of 48 cent (fl. – guilders) and Unilever PLC paid 2,4 pence (£sd, pre-decimal system).

The first few years of the dividend payments where bumpy, with several cuts. This is understandable as the company was still forming and they were quite strict in their dividend policy. At the same time the company got created on the brink of the great depression.

First dividend proposal from Unilever which can be found in the 1929 annual report and statement of accounts.

Let me answer it to you from different point of views, because the data is not that straight forward.

UNA – Dividend Growth Streak

A data purist would say that the growth streak for Unilever (AMS) is 11 years. They will argue that the dividend got cut in 2009, because technically less dividends were declared based on fiscal year 2009 earnings than the year before.

A very optimistic person would say that the growth streak for Unilever NV is 75 years, because in their view Unilever NV didn’t cut its dividend since the second world war. The optimist would ignore the 1 cent decline in 1966, because the Unilever PLC dividend remained the same that year.

A realistic person would argue that the growth streak for Unilever NV is 55 years, because they would argue that the switch from bi-annual dividends to quarterly dividends was hard to manage differently and therefore it wasn’t a dividend cut. The calendar amount of paid dividends in 2008, 2009 and 2010 did see steady growth. However, the realistic person would argue that the dividend got cut with 2.4% in 1966.

ULVR – Dividend Growth Streak

Unilever (LON) dividend growth streak looks much more bumpy, but this is mainly due to the Euro <> Pound currency over the last years. Due to that Unilever PLC “cut” its dividend 6 times since the second world war and therefore I rather refer to Unilever NV for its dividend growth streak.

However, it does look like Unilever PLC had a stronger average percentage increase over the last decades compared to Unilever NV. This doesn’t sound too bad for the UK investors!

Yes, see also answer above. H. S. A. HARTOG, Chairman of Unilever in 1966 had the honor to be the only post-war chairman to truly cut the dividend. He did this with just one cent.

It’s a bit awkward, because sales grew 3 percent that year and profit marginally improved. Net profit was a bit down due to higher loan and tax expenses, but the payout ratio was flat at ~40%.

Source: annual report and accounts 1966, page 46

If anyone of the readers have any special context of why the dividend was not increased with such positive numbers, then please let me know and I will update the answer to this question.

Otherwise this sounds to me more about “a situation in time” where the expression Penny Wise, Pound Foolish definitely applies

DecadeUNA dividend growthULVR dividend growth
2010-20197,03%7,20%
2000-20095,04%8,29%
1990-19997,79%10,66%
1980-19897,82%13,84%
1970-19796,17%9,83%
1960-19695,60%4,33%
1950-19595,24%5,34%
1940-1949## *7,18%
1930-1939-6,70%0,00%
* No evidence of dividends paid during the war. Dividends resumed from 1946 onwards, but it’s hard to calculate a growth percentage when the starting point is zero.

Yes, as per my knowledge, Unilever paid a special dividend in 1970, 1998 and 2006.

In 1970 Unilever paid a special dividend to avoid a dividend cut, due to the introduction of an additional interim-dividend in 1969 (NV fl 0,73 | PLC 1,25p). This idea of 2 interim-dividends was a year later abandoned again, but it did result in an additional dividend in 1970 to keep its dividend growth streak.

In 1998 Unilever paid a special dividend equivalent to the cash proceeds received in 1997 from the sale of Unilever’s speciality chemicals businesses (NV fl 1,70 | PLC 66,13p). If my calculations are correct, then this meant at the time a 30% yield purely for the special dividend. Off course, a part of the business was sold, but their earnings power and dividend increases where not negatively impacted by this sale.

In 2006 Unilever paid a special dividend due to strong cash flows and a strong balance sheet which gave the board of directors strong confidence in paying a one-off special dividend (NV 0,26 EUR | PLC 17,66p).

I am referring to Wikipedia for a list of recessions since world war 2. The figures below have mainly been derived by looking at the year after the recession year, because dividend announcements impacted due to a recession usually follow with a year delay.

RecessionUNA sharesULVR shares
Recession of 1949MaintainedMaintained
Recession of 1953MaintainedMaintained
Recession of 19588,11%8,13%
Recession of 1960-1961Maintained0,98%
Recession of 1969-1970Maintained0,43%
Recession of 1973-19751973: maintained, followed by avg growth1973: 0,09% followed by avg growth
Recession of 198012,55%-4,74%
Recession of 1981-19821982: maintained1982: 7,29%
Early 1990s5,50%4,30%
Early 2000s5,59%10,32%
Recession 2007-20092,67%18,84%
Unilever dividend reliability in recessions

Unilever currently pays its dividends quarterly.

  • Q1 dividends are paid in the first week of June
  • Q2 dividends are paid in the first week of September
  • Q3 dividends are paid in the first week of December
  • Q4 dividends are paid in the second or third week of March

For most of its history, Unilever was paying an interim dividend in December, the same year as the ending of the fiscal year. The final dividend was typically paid in May after the approval at the annual general meeting (AGM).

In the early years, especially during the second world war, dividends where often paid in December the next year. It just took time in those days to compile an annual report, hence also the dividends payments where delayed.

Unilever typically announces its new quarterly dividend somewhere in the middle of April as part of its first quarter trading statement.

Just looking at the dividend history is not enough to judge whether the Unilever dividend is safe. The dividend safety can change at any moment due to changing business fundamentals. Hence, it’s very important to always do your homework and analyze the prospects of the company.

You can learn more about my personal opinion by reading my Unilever stock analysis article from last year. This was pre-covid19, so the world has changed since then. However, the business fundamentals itself have not change that much since then.


Conclusion about Unilever dividend history

In conclusion, it was a very nice exercise to collect the full Unilever dividend history. I find the company extra-ordinary and I don’t really know any other company other than Nestle with such a long dividend growth track record.

The recent consolidation of the Headquarters into the United Kingdom will in my opinion not change this as can be seen in their latest dividend announcement.

Having said that, this analysis also gave me lots of other very interesting insights about what was going on in those times and how the board of directors looked at a given situation.

Actually, maybe the most interesting piece of information that I found can be seen in below snippit.

Source: 1939 annual review and accounts, page 1

“It is not known whether or not the board of that company (Unilever NV) have recommended that dividend”.

Can you imagine that happening today? These must have been crazy times!

Having said that, I hope that you found this Unilever dividend history post useful and interesting as well. I did a lot of data crunching, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I made a small mistake somewhere. Please let me know if this is the case and I will correct it as soon as possible.

I also believe that this is probably the most comprehensive overview of dividend history from Unilever that you will find available online. It took me a lot of effort and I have shared all the data with you so that you can perform your own analysis.

However, I would very much appreciate it if you post a link to this blog post in case you are using this data set for your own analysis and articles.

Yours Truly,

— European Dividend Growth Investor


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Disclaimer

I’m not a certified financial planner/advisor nor a certified financial analyst nor an economist nor a CPA nor an accountant nor a lawyer. I’m not a finance professional through formal education. I’m a person who believes and takes pride in a sense of freedom, satisfaction, fulfillment and empowerment that I get from being financially competent and being conscious managing my personal money. The contents on this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and does not constitute financial, accounting, or legal advice. I can’t promise that the information shared on my blog is appropriate for you or anyone else. By reading this blog, you agree to hold me harmless from any ramifications, financial or otherwise, that occur to you as a result of acting on information provided on this blog.

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Tiago
Tiago
7 months ago

Top quality material as always 😉

Santiago
Santiago
5 months ago

I’ve been reading this interesting post about Unilever, but I didn’t find the answer to something that puzzles me: Why is the forward dividend yield (checked at Yahoo Finance) for ULVR (3.53%) higher than for UNA (2.6%)? (Data for today, 07/may/2021)