The Norwegian stock market is historically dominated by oil, shipping, and fish farming. All sectors could be labeled as cyclical, perhaps fish farming is an exception, and cyclical industries is not where you find the stable dividend payers. Thus, if your main goal is to have a portfolio consisting of stable and growing dividend stocks, you need to diversify outside Norway, for example to the neighbors in the East, Sweden, or the one to the south, Denmark. That said, there are several interesting dividend stocks in Norway, like for example Tomra, Orkla, and Arcus.
Many investors consider themselves dividend investors. However, make sure you understand the long-term prospects of the company before you even start looking at the dividend. Do you understand the business model? What are the earnings 10-20 years down the line? Never base your decisions solely on the dividend. Make sure you invest by looking at estimated total returns. Total returns are determined by earnings growth, dividends, and multiple expansion/contraction.
The stocks below are mainly taken from the mid-to large-cap segment. Why is that? Our research indicates the bigger companies are more likely to keep their dividend. One reason is financial muscles, the other is greater protection via regulation and globalization. Red tape and regulation are friends of big business.
Moreover, this is a list in progress. As we read and understand more businesses, many more companies are added.
Before you start reading, make sure you visit our two pages containing many more articles about the Nordic stock market:
The dividend graphs below are taken from Borsdata.se unless stated otherwise.
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Orkla is a Nordic consumer brand. The business segments are Foods, Confectionary & snacks, Care, Food Ingredients, Consumer investments and Industrial and Financial Investments. The company has transformed itself massively since the GFC of 2008/09. Previously a conglomerate of a lot of different businesses, Orkla has repositioned itself as a consumer company under the ownership of Stein Erik Hagen who owns 25% via his investment company Canica (most of the ownership is transferred to his daughters, though).
Orkla’s dividend policy:
Orkla states that the number one priority is to pay an attractive and predictive dividend. This has resulted in equal or raised dividend compared to the previous year since 1997 (Orkla has never lowered its dividend). The dividend growth has been modest over the last years:
ABG Sundal Collier (ABG.OL):
ABG Sundal Collier’s business:
ABG is a rather unknown investment bank that was listed in the 1990s when it was mainly a stockbroker. Revenue from commissions have since then fallen, but this is by now offset by increased revenue from corporate clients. ABG has never lost money, not even during the GFC in 2008/09. Due to increased scrutiny from regulation, we believe the business is less likely to get disrupted than ever. There will always be a demand for outsourced thinking.
It’s a small company with only 275 employees. 46% of the revenue is from Norway, 90% from the Nordic region, and corporate/investment banking is 56% .
ABG Sundal Collier’s dividend policy:
The Board commits to distribute at least 80% of the annual EPS as either dividends or buybacks, depending on market conditions, regulation, and future prospects.The last dividend was 39 øre (4 cents). The dividend payments over the last ten years look like this:
AF Gruppen (AFG.OL):
AF Gruppen’s Business:
AF Gruppen is a project-based contracting group with seven business segments: Construction (roads, railways, port facilities, airports, tunnels, foundation work, power and energy), Building (contracting services for residential, public, and commercial buildings.), Betonmast (building contractor), Property (residential and commercial buildings for its own account), Energy and Environment(energy-efficient solutions for building and industry), Sweden (civil engineering, building, property and environmental services ) and Offshore.
After being listed in 1997, AF Gruppens long-term shareholders have witnessed a huge increase in their wealth. CAGR has been 35% since 2001, 20% since 2010, and 10% since 2015.
AF Gruppen’s dividend policy:
The dividend policy is to pay out a minimum of 50% of its annual profits, given that the future prospects are satisfactory. From 2014 AF Gruppen decided to pay a second dividend in November if the earnings allowed. The chart below lists the dividend payments since 2010, the yellow color is the second payment in November (source: website):
Arcus is a so-called sin-stock: it’s a distributor of alcoholic beverages, mainly wine and spirits. It was first listed on Oslo Stock Exchange in December 2016, but its history is much longer. Previously it was part of “Vinmomopolet” – a state-owned company that has monopoly in selling drinks with higher alcohol content than 5%. The Norwegian state was the biggest shareholder until 2004, when it was 100% privatized.
Arcus ASA is currently in the process of merging with Finnish Altia and change the name to Anora Group Plc. The company will have a dual listing in both Oslo and Helsinki, but the former is temporary. Thus, in due time the shares will only be exchanged in Helsinki.
The dividend history is short, but alcohol stocks have done well in many other countries. Besides, regulation is a huge barrier to entry.
The biggest shareholder after the merger is Canica AS, a company controlled by Stein Erik Hagen, the biggest shareholder in Orkla (see above). He’s a long-term shareholder and we consider him as a quality shareholder.
Arcus’ dividend policy:
The dividend policy of Arcus is to pay 50-70% of earnings as dividends. We expect this to be continued in the new merged company.
Please see our previous analysis of Gjensidige.
Tomra operates in a very hot business: recycling. The company was established in Asker outside Oslo in 1972, and has experienced rapid growth since then. The company was founded on the invention of the reverse vending machine (RVM), and today Tomra is the largest RVM provider in the world with a 75% market share. This segment, called Collection Solutions, is one of two business segments: the other is Sorting Solutions, where they also have a huge market share: 25-65% in their respective industries (food, recycling and mining).
Perhaps needless to say, Tomra operates in a sector that is very hot, ESG, that has resulted in multiple expansion to an earnings multiple above 50. However, no matter the earnings multiple, we believe they will have stable to rising dividend for years to come.
Tomra’s dividend policy:
Tomra aims to pay 40-60% of the earnings as dividends, dependent on cash flows and future CAPEX. It has risen every year since 2011, except 2019 when it was kept steady due to Covid-19 (2018 included a 2 NOK bonus dividend):
Please see our previous analysis of Bouvet.
Aker ASA (AKER.OL):
Aker’s business model:
Aker is an investment company controlled by Kjell Inge Røkke, currently ranked as the wealthiest Norwegian. Originally, Aker was a shipbuilding company but closed in 1982 and the yard was turned into an exclusive residential area. In 2004 it was listed on the exchange and has since then compounded at 21% with dividends reinvested, although it has been trading at a discount to NAV over the last years.
Aker is primarily an industrial investment company. The segments are Industrial Holdings and Financial Investments. Aker is an active shareholder in its subsidiaries and controlled companies and ownerships are exercised via the Boards. Aker looks upon itself as a knowledge center and uses its experience and knowledge in parts of the business: operations, investor relations, financing, stock listing etc.
The upstream oil company Aker BP is the biggest holding, while the shipping company Ocean Yield is the second:
Aker’s dividend policy:
Aker aims to pay 2-4% of NAV as dividends. However, this is most likely being influenced by the “upstream” dividends from the owned companies.
Borregaard is an old company, established in 1899 in Sarpsborg as a traditional pulp and paper. In 1986 it was taken over by Orkla, but spun-off in 2012.
The business of Borregaard evolves around timber, which is the cornerstone of all its products, which has led to increased diversification of the business segments. The fibers in the timber are used for food, cosmetics, paint, pulp, filters, paper, etc. Timber is of course a renewable source, and Borregaard is thus regarded as an environmentally friendly company where many of its products replace oil. An important part of its business is its R&D center.
Borregaard’s dividend policy:
Borregaard intends to pay regular and progressive dividends that reflect the earnings and long-term expansion. The target is between 30-50% of net profit.
Besides Equinor this is the only oil company that we consider reasonably safe. TGS-Nopec makes multi-client seismic data to oil and gas companies, which the latter use to explore for oil and gas deposits.
The CAGR since 2005 has been 11% with dividends reinvested. Both return on equity (ROE) and return on invested capital (ROIC) has been very impressive, between 20-30% more or less every year.
However, as an oil-service company, it’s dependent on the price of oil. During the GFC in 2008/09 (minus 60%), the turmoil in 2014/15(minus 45%) and during the Covid-19 (minus 50%), the share price suffered a lot, more than the market. The oil business is cyclical. But the reason why we include TGS-Nopec is because of its unique business model: they don’t own their equipment and don’t do contract work. Their seismic library is their main asset, which they sell to oil companies. This makes their business model more asset-light than competition, and thus they can easily scale back when prices are unfavorable. We recommend reading the annual CEO-letter to better understand the company.
TGS-Nopec’s dividend policy:
The company is one of the few that pays a quarterly dividend, which they started in 2016. As can be seen in the bar chart below, the dividend fluctuates. The reason is the Norwegian dividend policy of paying a dividend in line with earnings and cashflow. TGS doesn’t specify how much of earnings that should be distributed as dividends, but the Board base the decision on several factors, like CAPEX needs, valuation, balance sheet etc. Hence, expect the dividend to fluctuate. TGS-Nopec occasionally buy back shares when the valuation is favorable.
Fjordkraft’s business model:
Fjordkraft is an electricity retailer, selling both to private households (70% of revenue) and business customers (30%). About 20% of the private households are supplied electricity via Fjordkraft. This is a pretty stable business and we believe Fjordkraft should be able to keep a reasonable stable dividend that grows over time. Up until now, Fjordkraft has only operated in Norway, but in October 2020 it acquired Nordic Green Energy, a small provider in Finland and Sweden.
Recently, in 2017, Fjordkraft became a provider of mobile telephony using Telenor’s network (see more about Telenor below). Fjordkraft is the largest service provider without its own telecommunications network.
Fjordkraft has a short history as a public company. It was listed as recently as 2018, but the history goes back to 2001 when the two regional electricity providers merged.
One of the Norwegian consumer regulators claimed in October Fjordkraft is one of many companies that use “secret” prices resulting in higher prices for the end. The management denies the allegations.
Fjordkraft’s dividend policy:
The company aims to distribute at least 80% of the net income, depending on estimated cash flows and CAPEX.
This is one of the few public healthcare companies in Norway. The company develops medical instruments for research and hospitals, mainly to prevent heart attack and stroke. The primary products are ultrasound imaging to make doctors better informed. Most of the income is from Medistim’s own products, but around 15% come from the distribution of 3rd party products.
Medistim’s dividend policy:
The dividend has grown at 12%, in line with an increase in both turnover and earnings. Around 70% of earnings have on average been paid out during the last decade. As is typical for most Norwegian public companies, the dividend is a reflection of both earnings and financial capacity. Thus, the dividend can be lowered if the Board sees better opportunities elsewhere.
Yara is the world’s leading fertilizer company. It was founded in 1905 and was part of Norsk Hydro until it was spun-off in 2004. Currently, the business segments are Industrial products (nitrogen and chemicals), Environmental solutions (water treatment), and Agricultural products (fertilizers).
Yara’s dividend policy:
Because Yara produces somewhat cyclical products, we can’t expect Yara to pay a stable dividend. However, over time it should increase. The first dividend was 2.25 NOK in 2004, and the latest dividend is 18 NOK payable in December 2020 (the graph below is incorrect for Q3-2020).
The overall aim for Yara is to keep investment credit rating and keep a debt level of 1.5-2 of EBITDA. If these conditions are met, about 50% of earnings re expected to be paid as dividends.
Salmar is one of the largest producers of farmed salmon and controlled by Gustav Witzøe and his family. As an investor, this is a pretty easy business model to understand.
Salmar’s dividend policy:
The dividend has been cut twice since the initiation in 2007:
It’s one of the largest seafood companies in the world, and the leading producer of Atlantic salmon. Fish farming is the main business, with operations in Norway, Scotland, Canada, Faroe Islands, Ireland, and Chile.
Mowi’s dividend policy:
Mowi was up until the Covis-19 crisis one of the few Norwegian companies that paid a quarterly dividend (from 2014). However, they decided first to cut, later reduce, the dividend when the crisis struck. Prior to that, the dividend was halted in 2012 (the accounting year 2012). If net the interest bearing debt is at acceptable levels, 75% of free cash flow will be distributed as dividends.
Telenor is Norway’s largest telecom company, up until 2000 wholly owned by the state, but partially privatized in 2000 and listed on the exchange. The state’s ownership has since then been gradually reduced to 54%. Operations are worldwide, but mainly in Scandinavia and Asia.
Telecom is a competitive business: EU rules state that operators can have access to a competitor’s network. However, because of the strong regulation, there are some barriers to entry that make this a pretty stable business for the players that have scale, which Telenor has.
Telenor’s dividend policy:
Telenor pays the dividend semi-annually, and aims for year-on-year growth in the ordinary dividend. Buybacks and additional dividends are a bonus.
Schibsted (SCH-A.OL and SCH-B-OL):
Schibsted’s business model:
Schibsted is an investment/holding company. The holdings are mainly media and digital consumer brands, like for example VG, Aftonbladet, Blocket, and Lendo. In 2019 they spun-off their international internet sites into a separate company called Adevinta, listed in Oslo (ADE.OL). Schibsted’s main focus is the Nordics.
Schibsted’s dividend policy:
What can we expect from Schibsted in dividends? Schibsted’s main concern is to invest in new or existing businesses. Overall, their aim is to pay a growing dividend over time. But the history indicates they have not been very successful at that. However, shareholders should also focus on total returns.
If we adjust the share split some years ago, the dividend has in practice not risen for almost two decades. It has been eliminated twice: 2008 and 2019 (Covid-19). However, the dividend will resume later and Schibsted is a good stock to own. Their brands will most likely generate enough cash slow to increase the dividend in the near future.
Atea’s business model:
Atea is an IT-company that is market-leading in the Nordic and Baltic states (however, the Baltic states are just 3% of the revenue). Atea has scale (in the Nordics), and can thus offer a wide range of solutions and advice to clients. Merkantildata is the origin of Atea, but over the years many acquisitions have made Atea into a Nordic powerhouse.
Ib Kunøe, a Dane, owns 25% of the shares.
Atea’s dividend policy:
The aim is to distribute almost all of the earnings as dividends, at least 70% and pay an additional bonus dividend when the balance sheet permits. Due to Covid-19, no dividend has been declared for 2019:
Europris’ business model:
Europris is the only retailer that makes it to the list. Retailing is a pretty difficult business to succeed in, but Europris has managed to gain market share. It’s a discount variety retailer, meaning it sells lots of different products: food, electronics, shoes, cleaning products, personal care, and many other products. The main idea is to employ a low-cost operating model, mainly through logistics and distribution. So far they have been successful, but retail is easily disrupted.
Europris’ dividend policy:
The dividend policy is to pay around 50% of earnings in dividends. The dividend was initiated in 2015 and lowered once:
DNB is Norways’s biggest bank by far. It has exposure to a wide range of industries, but since the GFC in 2008/09 exposure to real estate has increased. Banks in general are in a much better shape now than before the GFC, and so is DNB. However, the lending business is highly cyclical and in a recession banks will suffer.
DNB’s dividend policy:
DNB’s goal is to pay out 50% of earnings, given adequate capital. Excess capital is paid back via a combination of bonus dividends and buybacks.
The dividend is temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19, just like in 2008.
Equinor’s business model:
Equinor changed name from Statoil in 2018. The reason was twofold: First, “stat” in Norwegian means “government”, and management wants to show that Equinor is an independent company, even though the Norwegian government owns 67% of the shares. Second, “oil” is likely to be less important for Equinor in the future. Over the last decade, Equinor has made substantial investments into renewable energy and today provides renewable energy for 1 million European homes.
However, oil and gas are still the main revenue source of revenue. Total production is two million barrels per day, something that puts Equinor on the list as one of the biggest oil producers in the world.
Equinor’s dividend policy:
The dividend is paid quarterly, among the very Norwegian companies that pay so frequently.
The ambition is to increase the dividend, but the graph below shows a pretty modest increase over the last ten years. The Covid-19 crisis and the subsequent fall in oil prices put a dent into their plans, and made Equinor delay the dividend before it was later resumed.
Equinor operates in a cyclical and capital intensive industry, and as such it can come as no surprise if the dividend is reduced or temporary suspended.