98% of dividend cuts caught in advance

Dividend Safety Scores cut through the noise to assess how likely a company is to put its dividend on the chopping block. Scores are available for over 1,300 stocks and can help you generate safer income.

Exclusive to Simply Safe Dividends, Dividend Safety Scores were created by our founder, Brian Bollinger, who is a CPA and former partner at a multi-billion dollar investment firm. Our scoring system analyzes a company's most important financial metrics (payout ratios, debt levels, recession performance, and much more) to determine the likelihood of a dividend cut. You can learn more about how Dividend Safety Scores are calculated here.

Our Realtime Track Record

We aim to set the bar for transparency in this industry. Below is a complete list of all 320 dividend cuts recorded since our scoring system's inception in 2015, as well each company's Dividend Safety Score before the cut was announced. Scores range from 0 to 100.

Investors who stuck with companies that scored above 60 (our Safe and Very Safe categories) would have avoided 98% (315 of 320) of the cuts, including Kinder Morgan, ConocoPhillips, National Oilwell Varco, and General Electric.

320 Dividend Cuts

December 10, 2019
6
Very Unsafe
Salem Media (SALM) cut its dividend by 62%. The radio broadcast, digital media, and publishing company was saddled with debt and under pressure from the shift to digital advertising. Reducing the dividend provides Salem with much needed cash to help improve its balance sheet as the firm's profitability erodes.
November 12, 2019
7
Very Unsafe
Garrison Capital (GARS) lowered its dividend by 35%. The business development company's profit was hurt by lower interest rates and an underperforming debt investment, keeping its payout ratio above 100%. Shares fell more than 10% on the news.
November 8, 2019
15
Very Unsafe
Tupperware (TUP) suspended its dividend. The maker of food storage containers, cookware, and beauty products needed to preserve cash to strengthen its balance sheet and gain more flexibility for its turnaround efforts. Tupperware's sales and cash flow remained under pressure as consumers opted for cheaper products and e-commerce challenged its direct-sales model. 
November 7, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
Medical Facilities (MFCSF) slashed its dividend by 75%. The owner and operator of surgical facilities was challenged by unfavorable payor and case mix changes, which pushed its payout ratio well above 100%. Shares fell more than 25% on the news.
November 7, 2019
13
Very Unsafe
Nielsen (NLSN) cut its dividend by 83%. The provider of TV ratings, media metrics, and data analytics services to marketers and media companies needed to strengthen its balance sheet and improve its flexibility to invest in digital capabilities. The rise of streaming video and advertisers' desire for more granular data on their audiences put pressure on the business.
November 5, 2019
10
Very Unsafe
Vector Group (VGR) slashed its dividend by 50%, ending its 20-year dividend growth streak and sending its shares falling more than 10%. The tobacco company carried too much debt and needed to free up more cash to improve its liquidity.
November 4, 2019
22
Unsafe
Westpac (WBK) reduced its semi-annual dividend by 15%. Australia's oldest bank was under pressure from lower interest rates, which drove a double-digit decline in earnings. Cutting its dividend will help Westpac bring its payout ratio to a more sustainable range while also increasing its capital buffers and providing the lender with flexibility in case regulators alter capital rules in the future. 
October 29, 2019
17
Very Unsafe
Quad/Graphics (QUAD) cut its dividend by 50%. The provider of commercial printing and marketing services desired additional financial flexibility to invest in growth opportunities and protect its balance sheet as it combatted ongoing print industry volume and pricing pressures. Shares fell more than 50% on the news.
October 24, 2019
22
Unsafe
Nokia (NOK) suspended its dividend, sending its shares falling more than 20% on the news. The telecom equipment maker felt pressure to invest more in 5G products and experienced profitability challenges in China. Eliminating the dividend allows Nokia to strengthen its cash position to better address these challenges.
September 24, 2019
55
Borderline
Fluor (FLR) lowered its dividend by 52%. Following a strategic review, the engineering and construction firm opted to divest businesses representing nearly 20% of its revenue to improve its long-term profitability. Reducing the dividend better aligns Fluor's payout with its ongoing cash flow generation and improves the company's financial flexibility as it evolves.
September 17, 2019
12
Very Unsafe
Anworth Mortgage (ANH) reduced its dividend by another 10%. The mortgage REIT generates income primarily based on the difference between the yield on its long-term mortgage assets and the cost of its short-term borrowings. The flattening yield curve pressured the firm's earnings and kept its payout ratio above 100%, leading to the dividend reduction.
September 12, 2019
35
Unsafe
Friedman Industries (FRD) cut its dividend by 50%. The steel processor and pipe manufacturer was challenged by the continued decline in steel prices and softer demand, which pressured the firm's profitability.
September 11, 2019
15
Very Unsafe
Tailored Brands (TLRD) suspended its dividend. The apparel retailer operates stores under brands such as Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks. Tailored Brands had a reasonable payout ratio below 40%, but continued sales declines and a weak stock price led management to cut the dividend, freeing up more cash flow for debt repayment and share repurchases. Shares slumped 30% on the news.
September 6, 2019
12
Very Unsafe
AG Mortgage Investment Trust (MITT) reduced its dividend by 10%. The flattening yield curve pressured the mortgage REIT's earnings, pushing its payout ratio to an unsustainable level.
September 6, 2019
5
Very Unsafe
Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM) suspended its dividend. The maker of performance fibers, lumber, and pulp was challenged by weak commodity markets. Losing money and struggling with a high debt burden, Rayonier needed to preserve cash.
September 4, 2019
15
Very Unsafe
Cherry Hill (CHMI) lowered its dividend by 18%. The mortgage REIT saw prepayments accelerate due to falling mortgage rates, hurting the value of its mortgage servicing rights portfolio. With its payout ratio projected to exceed 100% in the year ahead, the firm needed to cut its dividend.
August 14, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
Just Energy (JE) suspended its dividend. The independent energy retailer was losing money and saddled with debt. Suspending its dividend will help the firm preserve liquidity. Shares fell about 40% on the news.
August 9, 2019
6
Very Unsafe
Medley Capital Corporation (MCC) suspended its dividend. The business development company contended with poor investment performance, which had pushed its payout ratio well above 100%, and faced uncertainty regarding a controversial merger which many shareholders opposed.
August 8, 2019
51
Borderline
Kingstone Companies (KINS), a property and casualty insurance company, cut its dividend by 53%. While the dividend was well covered by the firm's investment income, management chose to reduce the dividend to retain more cash and strengthen the balance sheet. The company had been facing weakening profitability with its products, especially with commercial liability insurance.
August 6, 2019
7
Very Unsafe
Portman Ridge Finance (PTMN) cut its dividend by 40%. The business development company desired to more closely align dividends with net investment income being generated by the fund, resulting in a more sustainable payout ratio. 
August 6, 2019
26
Unsafe
KAR Auction Services (KAR) reduced its dividend by 46% following the spin-off of its salvage car auction business. The spin-off company, Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA), has not announced a dividend, leaving dividend investors with an apparent reduction in their income.
July 31, 2019
10
Very Unsafe
Dynex Capital (DX) lowered its dividend by 17%. The mortgage REIT's earnings were pressured by the inverted yield curve that resulted in higher financing costs and lower mortgage rates driving higher prepayment rates.
July 31, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
BlackRock Capital (BKCC) lowered its dividend by 22%. Underperforming investments weighed on the business development company's earnings, pushing its payout ratio above 100%. Cutting the dividend better aligns the payout with the current earnings power of the firm.
July 25, 2019
18
Very Unsafe
Seadrill Partners (SDLP) slashed its dividend by 90%. The highly leveraged provider of offshore contract drilling services needed to preserve liquidity ahead of upcoming debt maturities.
July 7, 2019
58
Borderline
Deutsche Bank (DB) opted to radically restructure its business and suspended its dividend as part of management's new capital allocation plan, which included laying off about 20% of its workforce and exiting several business lines. The bank's forward payout ratio sat below 20% and its dividend yield was less than 1%, so the stock wasn't owned by many investors for the dividend.
June 24, 2019
13
Very Unsafe
Arlington Asset Investment Corp (AI) slashed its dividend by 40%. The highly leveraged mortgage REIT was under pressure as the flattening yield curve pushed down its earnings and was causing its payout ratio to rise to an unsustainable level.
June 24, 2019
21
Unsafe
ARMOUR Residential REIT (ARR) reduced its dividend by 11%. The residential mortgage REIT faced headwinds from falling long-term interest rates, which increase mortgage prepayment risk and reduce the profit spread the business earns.
June 19, 2019
15
Very Unsafe
Two Harbors Investment (TWO) reduced its dividend by 15%. Lower interest rates led to accelerated mortgage prepayment speeds, pressuring the residential mortgage REIT's earnings and sending its payout ratio above 100%.
June 14, 2019
23
Unsafe
Ashford Hospitality Trust (AHT) slashed its dividend by 50%. Despite maintaining a payout ratio near 50%, the hotel REIT had too much debt and needed to preserve more capital to strengthen its balance sheet. Shares plunged 15% on the news.
June 13, 2019
10
Very Unsafe
Anworth Mortgage (ANH) cut its dividend by 15%. The mortgage REIT generates income primarily based on the difference between the yield on its long-term mortgage assets and the cost of its short-term borrowings. The flattening yield curve pressured the firm's earnings and kept its payout ratio above 100%, leading to the dividend reduction.
June 11, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT (EARN) reduced its dividend by 18%. The flattening yield curve reduced the firm's portfolio value, net interest margin, and core earnings. With a payout ratio above 100% and use of meaningful leverage, cutting its dividend was necessary.
June 4, 2019
17
Very Unsafe
GameStop (GME) eliminated its dividend, sending its shares plunging 30%. The troubled video game retailer experienced steep sales declines as online gaming disrupted its business. With a payout ratio approaching 100% and a highly leveraged balance sheet, GameStop needed to improve its financial flexibility.
May 31, 2019
15
Very Unsafe
Daktronics (DAKT) cut its dividend by 29%. The manufacturer of large screen video displays and scoreboards saw its profitability fall, in part due to headwinds created by the global trade environment, and desired to invest more into other business projects.
May 14, 2019
41
Borderline
Vodafone (VOD) reduced its dividend by 40%. In October 2018, we published a note warning that the telecom firm's payout could find itself on shaky ground in the year ahead. Here's a relevant excerpt:

"With Vodafone's dividend amounting to around $4.5 billion per year (compared to more than $35 billion of debt), reducing the payout is certainly a lever management could pull to accelerate deleveraging and create more breathing room for big-ticket investments the firm's network requires...

With the dividend consuming the bulk of Vodafone's free cash flow, plus rising leverage from the Liberty Global deal, the capital-intensive nature of its businesses, and very competitive telecom markets in Europe, there is little room for error...

As conservative income investors, we prefer to stick with financially stronger businesses that score closer to 60 or higher for Dividend Safety...The next year could be volatile for Vodafone as investors learn more about the company's health and ability to remain committed to its dividend."

Addressing the dividend cut, management called out weaker than expected revenue trends due to "a more intense environment." While the dividend was technically still covered by free cash flow, reducing the payout allows Vodafone to proactively prioritize faster deleveraging and improve its financial headroom as it invests for the future.
May 10, 2019
38
Unsafe
Ciner Resources LP (CINR) cut its distribution by 40%. Despite recording double-digit cash flow growth and maintaining a distribution coverage ratio above 1.0, the commodity chemical producer wanted to redirect more capital to its growth projects. CINR units fell 15% on the news.
May 7, 2019
75
Safe
J2 Global (JCOM), an internet services provider, suspended its dividend in favor of preserving cash to more aggressively grow its business through acquisitions. However, JCOM's stock yielded only 2%, suggesting few investors owned JCOM for its payout. In fact, JCOM's stock price actually rose following the announcement and is currently near an all-time high.

With a healthy 25% payout ratio, low debt levels, solid cash flow, and EPS growth of 15% in the most recent quarter, JCOM's dividend cut would've been difficult to predict. Management certainly could've continued to pay the dividend but felt the company (and shareholders) would benefit more from quick expansion into new business lines outside the company's legacy fax and voice products. Here's what management said:

"Our portfolio of businesses - and the leadership managing it - has never been stronger or deeper,” said Vivek Shah, CEO of j2 Global. “It’s reflected in our first quarter results, our improved outlook for the remainder of the year and the breadth of promising investment opportunities in front of us. It’s why we are confident that by suspending our dividend, we can prudently direct the increasing cash flow to opportunities within our businesses to create greater shareholder returns over the near, medium and long term."

Discretionary cuts like JCOM's are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we're constantly improving our scoring system and will continue to look for ways to better assess dividend risk profiles.
May 1, 2019
20
Very Unsafe
Annaly Capital Management (NLY), a mortgage REIT, cut its dividend by 17%. The firm had been the only company in its industry not to have reduced its payout over the last five years, but a flattening yield curve and compressed spreads pushed its payout ratio above 100%. 

Management did not want to increase Annaly's leverage or risk profile just to maintain the dividend, so the payout was reduced to a more sustainable level for the long term. Generally speaking, mortgage REITs depend on many factors outside of their control, making their dividends riskier.
April 30, 2019
24
Unsafe
Meridian Bioscience (VIVO) suspended its dividend. Despite paying dividends for more than 20 years and sporting a payout ratio below 65%, the supplier of healthcare diagnostic test kits changed its capital allocation philosophy to increase growth investments and help fund an acquisition. VIVO shares fell 14%.
April 29, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
JMP Group LLC (JMP) slashed its dividend by 56% after the investment banking and asset management firm converted from a partnership to a C corporation for tax purposes. Management lowered the company's target payout ratio from 95% to 50% in order to retain more cash flow for growth investments.
April 25, 2019
5
Very Unsafe
Consolidated Communications (CNSL) suspended its dividend, sending its shares tumbling more than 20%. The provider of internet and phone services was losing money and had too much debt. Cutting the dividend freed up more cash for deleveraging efforts.
April 25, 2019
12
Very Unsafe
Martin Midstream Partners (MMLP) chopped its distribution in half. The midstream services provider was challenged by volatile commodity prices which pushed its payout ratio and debt metrics to dangerous levels. Management wanted to improve the distribution's coverage and the firm's financial flexibility. MMLP shares closed 21% lower on the news.
April 24, 2019
25
Unsafe
AGNC Investment Corp. (AGNC) lowered its monthly dividend by 11%. The mortgage REIT's net interest income was hurt by the flattening yield curve, leading management to reduce the dividend to keep AGNC's payout ratio at a more sustainable level.
April 24, 2019
27
Unsafe
RPC (RES), a provider of oilfield services and equipment, cut its dividend by 50%. Management cited uncertainty in the oilfield market, which was expected to pressure RPC's earnings in the year ahead. Shares fell 18% on the news.
April 23, 2019
26
Unsafe
Banc of California (BANC) cut its dividend by 54%. Despite maintaining an earnings payout ratio near 60%, the bank's new CEO opted to reduce the dividend in order preserve more capital that could be redeployed into "more useful and core aspects of the business in the near term." 
April 22, 2019
12
Very Unsafe
Guess (GES) cut its dividend by 50%. Although the apparel retailer had paid uninterrupted dividends for more than a decade, management opted to reduce the payout in order direct more capital towards share repurchases. Guess's balance sheet was also stretched, and its high payout ratio limited the firm's financial flexibility.
April 22, 2019
33
Unsafe
Blueknight Energy Partners, L.P. (BKEP) cut its distribution in half. The provider of midstream energy services had a payout ratio below 50%, but management desired to strengthen the firm's balance sheet.
April 2, 2019
20
Very Unsafe
Senior Housing Properties Trust (SNH) announced plans to reduce its annual payout to $0.55 to $0.65 per share, or a 62% dividend cut at the midpoint of guidance. The senior housing REIT needed to restructure a deal with a large struggling tenant, pressuring its cash flow. Combined with an elevated payout ratio and high debt load, a dividend cut was necessary. Shares fell nearly 20%.
April 1, 2019
2
Very Unsafe
Medley Management (MDLY) cut its dividend by 85%. The struggling investment manager was challenged by persistent asset outflows, which resulted in lower fee income and an unsustainable payout ratio.
March 27, 2019
45
Borderline
Guangshen Railway (GSH), a passenger and freight train operator in China, reduced its annual dividend by 25%. Although the state-controlled company's payout ratio stood below 60% and the firm had no debt, management sought an even lower payout ratio as the firm's investment spending increased.
March 26, 2019
19
Very Unsafe
CBL Properties (CBL) suspended its dividend for two quarters. The mall REIT faced a class action lawsuit from 2016 related to claims it overcharged tenants for electricity. With a costly settlement drawing closer and the firm's balance sheet remaining weak, CBL needed to preserve capital. Shares fell 25% on the news.
March 20, 2019
19
Very Unsafe
Uniti Group (UNIT), a wireless infrastructure REIT, chopped its dividend by 92%. The firm's largest customer, Windstream, declared bankruptcy, creating uncertainty regarding its ability to honor its lease contract with Uniti. 

The REIT's lenders amended their credit agreement with the company as well, including a restriction on Uniti's ability to pay dividends. Combined with the cash flow uncertainty due to Windstream's financial distress, Uniti's dividend cut will help preserve cash as management works these challenges.
March 19, 2019
40
Unsafe
Friedman Industries (FRD) reduced its dividend by 33%. The steel processor and pipe manufacturer operates a cyclical business and expected margins to contract. As a micro-cap stock, Friedman's capital allocation decisions can be more dynamic, too.
March 14, 2019
7
Very Unsafe
Blue Capital (BCRH), a reinsurance provider in the property catastrophe market, slashed its dividend by 50%. Several hurricanes and wildfires caused the firm to lose money, resulting in a steep dividend cut.
March 6, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
THL Credit (TCRD), a business development company, cut its dividend by 22%. The firm's payout ratio exceeded 100% as management's actions to reduce risk in THL's portfolio resulted in lower investment income.
February 27, 2019
1
Very Unsafe
Dean Foods (DF) suspended its dividend. The milk processor and dairy products manufacturer was losing money and had a dangerously high debt load. Suspending its dividend provided the company with more financial flexibility as it continued its turnaround plan. Shares of Dean Foods dropped 14% on the news.
February 26, 2019
8
Very Unsafe
Despite paying uninterrupted dividends for more than 20 consecutive years, Protective Insurance Corporation (PTVCA) cut its dividend by 64%. The property and casualty insurer incurred steep underwriting losses in its commercial auto line and desired to preserve capital in order to protect its investment grade credit rating.
February 26, 2019
16
Very Unsafe
Summit Midstream Partners, LP (SMLP) slashed its dividend in half, sending its shares plunging as much as 20% on the news. The operator of midstream energy infrastructure assets needed to improve its ability to fund growth projects and maintain a healthier credit profile as it simplified its business structure.
February 25, 2019
0
Very Unsafe
Seritage Growth Properties (SRG), a retail REIT with substantial exposure to Sears, suspended its dividend. The move frees up cash to help management fund redevelopment efforts as Seritage works to continue reducing its exposure to Sears and improve its profitability.
February 22, 2019
44
Borderline
County Bancorp (ICBK), a micro-cap bank stock operating in Wisconsin, lowered its dividend by 29%. The firm had a payout ratio below 15% and reported solid growth in deposits, book value per share, and loans serviced. 

Small companies can have more dynamic capital allocation policies regardless of their current business fundamentals, so we do our best to treat them more conservatively.
February 21, 2019
41
Borderline
Kraft Heinz (KHC) cut its dividend by 36%. In November 2018, four months before the reduction was announced, we published a note warning of a possible dividend cut. 

We wrote, "given the company's somewhat high payout ratio and large amount of debt, if Kraft Heinz can't start delivering on its turnaround plan quickly (in 2019), then the risk of its frozen dividend being cut could increase. While the stock's current yield is certainly generous, conservative income investors may prefer to look at other companies with safer dividends, superior growth potential, and less hair from a heavy debt load and struggling turnaround effort."

The packaged food giant was struggling to achieve profitable growth due to changing consumer tastes and years of underinvestment in its brands. Management, led by private equity firm 3G Capital, desired to cut the dividend to accelerate the firm's pace of deleveraging in light of increasingly attractive opportunities they saw to make acquisitions and consolidate the industry. 

Given 3G Capital's ongoing struggles to create value from the 2015 Kraft-Heinz merger, investors were less than thrilled to hear management's excitement about making more large acquisitions. With investors losing confidence in Kraft Heinz's brands and 3G Capital's reputation as a savvy dealmaker, shares of KHC fell more than 25% on the news.
February 19, 2019
20
Very Unsafe
Less than four months after stunning investors with its first dividend cut in October 2018, Owens & Minor (OMI) slashed its dividend by 97%, sending its shares falling as much as 20%. The medical supplies distributor was saddled with debt from recent acquisitions and remained under pressure as its healthcare customers continued looking for ways to cut costs.
February 19, 2019
30
Unsafe
Fresh Del Monte Produce (FDP) suspended its dividend. After taking on debt for an acquisition and suffering a slide in profits, the global producer and distributor of fruit and vegetables violated certain covenants of its credit facility, which restricted payments of dividends unless certain ratios were met. FDP shares fell 17% on the news.
February 15, 2019
3
Very Unsafe
Harvest Capital Credit (HCAP), a business development company, lowered its monthly dividend by 16%. Management cited a "very competitive investment environment" which caused the firm's earnings to decline, pushing Harvest's payout ratio well above 100%.
February 14, 2019
40
Unsafe
Clearway Energy (CWEN), an energy infrastructure investment company with long-term contracted assets, reduced its dividend by 40% as uncertainty swirled around one of its largest customers, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). PG&E filed for bankruptcy, heightening the risk that it may not honor the power purchase agreements it has with Clearway. In such a scenario where project distributions are restricted, the firm's liquidity and leverage would take a hit. 

By cutting the dividend, Clearway could proactively maintain its balance sheet and capital allocation flexibility during this period of uncertainty. As more clarity is provided on the PG&E, management said they will reassess the dividend. For now, PG&E has neither assumed, rejected, or sought to renegotiate its contracts with Clearway.
February 13, 2019
3
Very Unsafe
CenturyLink (CTL), a regional telecom business, chopped its dividend by 54%. The firm was struggling to grow and had too much debt following years of costly acquisitions. Cutting the dividend provided the firm with more flexibility to reduce its leverage. CTL shares fell 10% on the news.
February 13, 2019
31
Unsafe
Latin American airline Copa Holdings (CPA) lowered its dividend by 25%. Higher fuel prices along with economic and currency weakness in Brazil and Argentina hurt the company's profits, pushing its payout ratio too far above management's 40% target. Airlines are cyclical, capital-intensive businesses with high debt loads and volatile earnings, so their dividends can be less predictable.
February 12, 2019
9
Very Unsafe
Unique Fabricating (UFAB) slashed its dividend by 67%. The manufacturer of foam and plastic components used in cars and appliances wanted to increase its financial flexibility so it could more aggressively reduce its debt.
February 12, 2019
3
Very Unsafe
Medley Capital Corporation (MCC) cut its dividend by 50%. The business development company contended with poor investment performance, which had pushed its payout ratio well above 100%, and faced uncertainty regarding a proposed controversial merger which many shareholders opposed.
February 8, 2019
44
Borderline
After rejecting a takeover offer and appointing a new CEO all in the last month, aerospace parts manufacturer Arconic (ARNC) decided to cut its dividend by 67% and split its company in two, with plans to eventually spin off one of the businesses. 

Management's sudden operational overhaul came despite the company recording double-digit organic sales and earnings growth in the quarter. Arconic also maintained a payout ratio below 20% at the time of its dividend cut and announced a new $500 million share buyback program.

In other words, Arconic's dividend cut was a capital allocation decision tied to management's new strategic plans for the company rather than unhealthy business fundamentals. Cuts like these are unusual but often difficult to get in front of.
February 5, 2019
15
Very Unsafe
Pitney Bowes (PBI) cut its dividend by 73%. The firm's earnings had eroded nearly 50% over the past decade as its mailing solutions business faced secular headwinds. While Pitney Bowes maintained a reasonable payout ratio near 60%, it also operated with substantial leverage. Management opted to cut the dividend to direct more capital towards growth initiatives as the business continued its turnaround.
January 30, 2019
34
Unsafe
Despite paying uninterrupted dividends for more than 20 years and maintaining an earnings payout ratio below 60%, Tupperware Brands (TUP) cut its dividend by 60%. The maker of food storage containers, cookware, and beauty products was struggling to achieve profitable growth as consumers opted for cheaper alternatives and e-commerce challenged its direct-sales model. Management wanted to free up more cash to fund the firm's turnaround initiatives. TUP shares tumbled more than 25% on the news.
January 27, 2019
65
Safe
Vale (VALE) suspended its dividend after one of its dams suddenly burst in Brazil, causing billions of dollars of damages and widespread tragedy with over 60 lives lost. The Wall Street Journal reported that this was "the most deadly mining incident of its kind in more than 50 years."

Vale's business was actually in good financial shape before disaster struck. The firm's net debt was at its lowest level since 2009, its payout ratio sat below 30%, there were no major debt maturities through 2021, cash on hand exceeded $6 billion, and earnings were expected to grow at a double-digit pace next year. Moody's had even upgraded Vale's credit rating to Baa3 (investment grade) in July 2018.

However, with a major liability forming overnight, plus severe public outrage at the company (Vale wisely suspended executive bonuses as well), the firm's decision was a prudent one. Given the unforecastable nature of an event of this magnitude, coupled with Vale's otherwise solid financial health, we were unable to get in front of this dividend cut. 

We already use a separate scoring template for mining companies to conservatively account for their cyclical and capital-intensive operations, but there were no warning signs in this situation (a German safety certifier had even found the mine to be stable in September). Going forward, we will consider placing even more weight on a miner's long-term dividend track record to gauge how conservative its operations have historically been managed.

Fortunately, the vast majority of dividend cuts can be spotted in advance since they are not triggered by a single high-impact, low-probability event. Unlike Vale, dividend cutters often possess some combination of a dangerously high payout ratio, falling earnings, and too much debt; their financial health does not materially change overnight.
January 25, 2019
4
Very Unsafe
Dynagas LNG Partners LP (DLNG) reduced its distribution by 75% less than a year after management first cut the payout by 41%. The owner and operator of LNG carriers said it needed to retain more cash flow as it approached a significant debt maturity later this year, suggesting its refinancing efforts weren't going well. DLNG's stock plunged nearly 30% on the news.
January 22, 2019
10
Very Unsafe
CSI Compressco LP (CCLP), a provider of compression services and equipment for natural gas and oil producers, slashed its distribution by 95%. The firm's distribution had consumed all of its distributable cash flow over the past year, and its leverage was too high. Cutting the distribution frees up cash flow that management will use to redeem CSI Compressco's preferred units, which were significantly diluting common unit holders.
January 22, 2019
18
Very Unsafe
Seadrill Partners (SDLP) cut its dividend by 90%. The provider of offshore contract drilling services experienced a decline in cash flow as dayrates remained weak, and the firm needed to preserve liquidity ahead of upcoming debt maturities.
January 15, 2019
26
Unsafe
Crescent Point Energy Group (CPG) chopped its dividend by 89% due to the significant decline in the price of oil. The Canadian oil producer's payout ratio sat near 100%, its debt load was high, and management desired more financial flexibility.
January 14, 2019
0
Very Unsafe
Sage Stores (SSI) suspended its dividend. The department store retailer was losing money and decided to convert more of its locations to the off-price model, which is having more success. Eliminating the dividend was necessary to free up more cash for this strategy initiative, especially given the company’s significant financial leverage.
January 8, 2019
2
Very Unsafe
Nabors Industries (NBR), a provider of drilling services and technologies for oil and gas wells, slashed its dividend by 83%. With the price of oil significantly declining, Nabors was losing money and needed to free up more cash to reduce its debt load.
January 8, 2019
29
Unsafe
Teekay Offshore Partners L.P. (TOO) suspended its distribution. The marine energy transportation company desired to conserve more of its internally generated cash flows to reinvest in the business and reduce financial leverage.
January 7, 2019
19
Very Unsafe
Hi-Crush Partners LP (HCLP) suspended its distribution. The frac sand producer was challenged by soft market conditions as energy companies completed fewer wells, and management desired to protect the company's balance sheet. HCLP shares tumbled more than 15% on the news.
December 14, 2018
4
Very Unsafe
As a mortgage REIT, Anworth Mortgage (ANH) generates income primarily based on the difference between the yield on its long-term mortgage assets and the cost of its short-term borrowings. The flattening yield curve pressured the firm's earnings and kept its payout ratio above 100%, so Anworth reduced its dividend by 7%.
December 13, 2018
1
Very Unsafe
AltaGas (ATGFF) cut its dividend by 56%. The owner of regulated utilities and midstream assets needed to direct more cash flow towards deleveraging efforts after taking on significant debt to acquire a natural gas utility for $9 billion. With midstream stock prices in a bear market, issuing equity was no longer a viable financing plan for the firm.
December 13, 2018
2
Very Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage's (CMO) earnings remained under pressure due to the flattening yield curve, which reduces the income generated by the adjustable-rate mortgage securities it invests in. With a payout ratio in excess of 100%, the mortgage REIT lowered its dividend by 27%.
December 12, 2018
2
Very Unsafe
Communications Systems (JCS), a provider of connectivity products for broadband and voice communications, cut its dividend by 50%. The money-losing firm needed to restructure its operations and direct more capital to its best growth opportunities.
December 11, 2018
2
Very Unsafe
Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT (EARN) lowered its dividend by 8% in response to a flattening yield curve, which reduced its portfolio value, net interest margin, and core earnings. With a payout ratio above 100% and use of meaningful leverage, reducing its dividend was necessary.
December 6, 2018
1
Very Unsafe
Aceto (ACET) suspended its dividend. The chemical compounds manufacturer was hurt by a prolonged down cycle in the generic drug industry and was saddled with debt. Just two months after suspending its dividend, Aceto shocked many investors by filing for bankruptcy, sending its stock falling by more than 60%.
November 27, 2018
19
Very Unsafe
Capital Product Partners L.P. (CPLP) effectively cut its distribution by 43%. The owner of tanker, container, and drybulk vessels reduced its payout after deciding to spin off its crude and product tanker business, which reduced its cash flow. Although unitholders received a stake in the new spin-off, its weak profitability prevented it from paying a distribution.
November 26, 2018
9
Very Unsafe
Highway Holdings (HIHO) chopped its dividend by 50%. The industrial parts and components supplier had a payout ratio above 100% and was challenged by a double-digit drop in revenue as a large customer pulled back on orders.
November 26, 2018
35
Unsafe
Ferroglobe PLC (GSM) suspended its dividend. The silicon and specialty metal producer operates in a cyclical industry and saw its near-term outlook worsen, leading management to eliminate its dividend in order to save cash and deleverage its balance sheet.
November 19, 2018
9
Very Unsafe
Plagued by weak growth, declining profitability, and too much debt, mall-based retailer L Brands (LB) cut its dividend by 50% to free up more cash for deleveraging. L Brands had paid dividends without reduction for more than 25 consecutive years, and its stock price plunged 18% on the news.
November 9, 2018
23
Unsafe
Despite sporting a payout ratio below 30% and growing its quarterly revenue, Adient (ADNT) suspended its dividend. The automobile seat manufacturer was spun off from Johnson Controls (JCI) in 2016 and desired to improve its cash flow available for debt reduction.
November 7, 2018
13
Very Unsafe
Dean Foods (DF) cut its dividend by 67%. The milk processor and dairy products manufacturer was losing money and had a dangerously high debt load. Reducing its payout provided the company with more financial flexibility as it continued its turnaround plan.
November 6, 2018
3
Very Unsafe
Garrison Capital (GARS), a business development company, reduced its dividend by 18%. The firm's payout ratio had exceeded 100% due to a decline in earnings caused by lower fee income and an unrealized loss on one of its investments.
November 2, 2018
13
Very Unsafe
After paying uninterrupted distributions for more than 30 consecutive years, Buckeye Partners, L.P. (BPL) cut its distribution by 41%. The pipeline and storage terminal operator was challenged by weak oil market fundamentals.

As a result, the firm contended with an unsustainable payout ratio above 100%, needed to free up cash for debt reduction to protect its credit rating, and, with its stock price in the dumps, wanted to eliminate its need to access the public equity markets to fund annual growth capital.
November 2, 2018
0
Very Unsafe
Digirad (DRAD) eliminated its dividend in favor of using the money on share repurchases instead. The provider of diagnostic healthcare services was losing money so its stock price was in the dumps. 
October 31, 2018
17
Very Unsafe
Owens & Minor (OMI) cut its dividend by 71%, sending its stock price tumbling more than 40%. The medical supplies distributor had paid uninterrupted dividends since 1977, but its core customers (hospitals) were putting increased price pressure on the firm in an effort to cut costs. 

As growth in its legacy business struggled, management responded by making two large acquisitions in faster-growing segments, straining Owens & Minor's balance sheet and liquidity. The substantial dividend cut gives the company more breathing room to service its significant debt load while continuing to adapt its business model for the future.
October 30, 2018
0
Very Unsafe
Big 5 Sporting Goods (BGFV) chopped its dividend by 67% as the retailer of athletic shoes, apparel, and equipment couldn't sustain its payout ratio above 100% and needed to pay down debt as sales declined.  
October 30, 2018
10
Very Unsafe
General Electric (GE) axed its dividend for the second time in less than a year, this time reducing its payout by 92%. With power markets remaining weak and the company dealing with a very heavy debt load, GE needed to free up more cash to improve its balance sheet and give its turnaround efforts some breathing room.
October 29, 2018
24
Unsafe
CBL Properties (CBL) slashed its dividend by 63%. Declining occupancy and a very heavy debt load put pressure on the mall REIT to preserve liquidity and increase its financial flexibility.
October 25, 2018
50
Borderline
Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) reduced its dividend by 50% as management wanted to speed up debt repayments following the firm's $100-billion-plus acquisition of SABMiller in 2016. 

BUD's dividend cut involved some discretion since the firm's free cash flow more than covered its dividend, sales and earnings were growing, and the beverage maker was not facing any liquidity issues.

In fact, management stated that from a liquidity standpoint "there is no pressure whatsoever" and that the company's nicely balanced debt maturities were "no big issue." 

These situations are rather unusual and can be hard to evaluate. On paper, the dividend seemed like it could have been sustained. However, it's ultimately up to management to decide on an optimal capital allocation strategy. In BUD's case, that meant taking action to accelerate the deleveraging process.
October 25, 2018
11
Very Unsafe
Manning & Napier (MN) cut its dividend by 75%. The investment manager was struggling with a decline in assets under management and had an unsustainable payout ratio above 100%. Reducing the dividend provided the firm with more breathing room as it worked to restructure its core business. 
October 24, 2018
6
Very Unsafe
Golar LNG Partners LP (GMLP) reduced its distribution by 30% after weak conditions in the shipping market stretched its balance sheet and pushed its payout ratio well above 100%.
October 22, 2018
19
Very Unsafe
After nearly tripling its quarterly distribution in July 2018, just three months later Hi-Crush Partners LP (HCLP) chopped its distribution by 70%. The frac sand producer was challenged by soft market conditions and also wanted to lower its payout ratio as it converted from a partnership to a corporation.
September 27, 2018
13
Very Unsafe
Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. (FGP) suspended its distribution. The propane distributor was saddled with debt following a failed effort to diversify its business into the midstream sector. Ferrellgas violated its bond covenants which prevented the firm from paying distributions.  
September 17, 2018
5
Very Unsafe
Government Properties Income Trust (GOV) slashed its dividend by 68%, sending the office REIT's stock price tumbling 25% on the news. Government Properties was challenged by an unsustainable payout ratio above 100%, too much leverage, high tenant concentration, and significant near term lease expirations. 

Cutting the dividend reduced the firm's payout ratio to management's target level of 75% and provided more financial flexibility as Government Properties pursued plans to merge with Select Income REIT (SIR).
September 13, 2018
4
Very Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) continued to face interest rate headwinds and see its portfolio value decline, forcing the mortgage REIT to cut its dividend by 21% — the firm's third dividend cut this year.
September 12, 2018
10
Very Unsafe
The financially distressed shopping center REIT DDR Corp (DDR) reduced its dividend by 47% following the spin-off of its lower quality properties. Shareholders received shares in the newly formed company, RVI, but it's unclear whether RVI will pay a regular distribution, especially given the company's plans to sell off all assets within 5 years.
September 4, 2018
35
Unsafe
Lexington Realty Trust (LXP) cut its dividend by 42% in February 2019, but management first communicated a dividend reduction was coming in September 2018. The REIT decided to divest most of its office properties, reducing its cash flow generation, and used proceeds to reduce debt and acquire more industrial properties. 
August 30, 2018
21
Unsafe
Spirit Realty Capital (SRC) effectively lowered its dividend by 12% following its spin-off of Spirit MTA (SMTA). Including the shares investors were given in SMTA, annual dividends per share fell from 72 cents to 63.2 cents. The retail REIT opted to target a lower payout ratio near 75%, which is more in line with its peers. 
August 15, 2018
16
Very Unsafe
Orchid Island Capital (ORC) lowered its monthly dividend by 11% as interest rate volatility hurt the mortgage REIT's profitability.
August 9, 2018
1
Very Unsafe
New Senior Investment Group (SNR) cut its dividend by 50% due to the senior housing REIT's unsustainable payout ratio and substantial debt load. 
August 9, 2018
9
Very Unsafe
Maiden Holdings (MHLD), a specialty reinsurance company, reduced its dividend by 67% as the firm struggled with underwriting losses.
August 8, 2018
2
Very Unsafe
Farmland Partners (FPI) lowered its dividend by 61%. The farmland REIT's cash flow did not cover its dividend, and falling crop prices remained a challenge.
August 1, 2018
15
Very Unsafe
R.R. Donnelley & Sons (RRD) cut its dividend by 79% in order to use more cash flow for improving its heavily indebted balance sheet. The integrated communications company was struggling as commercial print sales remained weak. 
June 28, 2018
20
Very Unsafe
SCANA (SCG) slashed its dividend by 80% to preserve cash. The utility is seeking a resolution with regulators to recover costs for its failed $7.7 billion nuclear construction project. Shareholders, rather than utility ratepayers, will likely be on the hook for a substantial amount of the project's loss.
June 27, 2018
24
Unsafe
Corus Entertainment (CJREF) slashed its dividend by 79% to conserve more cash for debt reduction. The television and radio company's advertising revenue was under pressure, driven by the continued rise of digital marketing channels and over-the-top streaming services. The firm's shares plunged 18% to reach an all-time low.
June 18, 2018
8
Very Unsafe
Himax Technologies (HIMX) reduced its annual dividend by 57% due to weak results in its cyclical semiconductor business, as well as the firm’s need to ramp up spending to expand its manufacturing capacity. 
June 15, 2018
8
Very Unsafe
Anworth Mortgage Asset Corporation (ANH), a mortgage REIT, moved its dividend lower by 7% due to its high payout ratio and interest rate volatility that lowered the value of its investment portfolio.
June 14, 2018
6
Very Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) saw its portfolio value decline and borrowing costs rise as interest rates fluctuated, forcing the mortgage REIT to cut its dividend by 13%.
June 14, 2018
12
Very Unsafe
Arlington Investment Corp (AI) reduced its dividend by 32%. Rising interest rates reduced the value of its mortgage-related investments, and the firm maintains a high payout ratio and substantial financial leverage. 
June 13, 2018
6
Very Unsafe
ClearOne (CLRO) eliminated its dividend. The developer of conferencing and collaboration communications solutions saw its revenue slump nearly 40% and reported a loss as a competitor infringing on its patents hurt adoption of one of its new platforms. To preserve cash, management suspended the dividend. Shares tumbled more than 15%.
May 21, 2018
3
Very Unsafe
Libbey (LBY) suspended its dividend in order to increase the glass manufacturer’s focus on debt reduction. 
May 15, 2018
0
Very Unsafe
Nordic American Offshore (NAO) dropped its dividend by 50% as the offshore oil & gas shipping market remained weak, keeping pressure on the capital intensive and unprofitable vessel company. 
May 10, 2018
22
Unsafe
Blueknight Energy Partners, L.P. (BKEP) cut its distribution by 45% as the provider of midstream energy services struggled with a coverage ratio below 1.0x, a weak crude oil storage market, and too much debt.
May 7, 2018
8
Very Unsafe
CrossAmerica Partners (CAPL) reduced its distribution by 16%. The motor fuels distributor had significant financial leverage and owed its general partner meaningful management fees. With the MLP market remaining weak, making issuing equity very dilutive, and the partnership’s payout ratio elevated, cutting the distribution freed up more internally generated cash flow for the business to use.
May 3, 2018
25
Unsafe
Aceto (ACET) slashed its dividend by 85% in response to the continued down cycle in the generics drug industry and the pressure it put on the company’s high debt load. 
May 2, 2018
30
Unsafe
TC Pipelines, LP (TCP) was adversely affected by a change in MLP regulations. The company needed to deleverage to prepare for lower future cash flow, and cutting its distribution by 35% was part of the solution. 
April 27, 2018
0
Very Unsafe
Nordic American Tankers (NAT) slashed its dividend by 67% as a weak tanker market caused the indebted vessel company to operate at a loss.  
April 26, 2018
23
Unsafe
SunCoke Energy Partners, L.P. (SXCP) reduced its distribution by 33% in order to help the company further pay down debt and maintain some cushion for its credit facility’s leverage covenant. 
April 18, 2018
4
Very Unsafe
Dynagas LNG Partners LP (DLNG) cut its distribution by 41% following a strategic review of the business. Management desired to improve the energy MLP's coverage ratio and strengthen its balance sheet after a drop in charter rates caused operating cash flow to decline.
April 18, 2018
0
Very Unsafe
Pier 1 Imports (PIR) suspended its dividend. The retailer of decorative accessories, furniture, candles, and housewares was saddled with debt, had an unsustainable payout ratio above 100%, and was experiencing sharp sales and earnings declines. Discontinuing the dividend freed up cash to help the distressed company's turnaround efforts.
April 6, 2018
7
Very Unsafe
Franklin Street Properties (FSP) reduced its dividend for the first time since 2008, announcing a 53% cut as the REIT transitions its property portfolio from a suburban to an urban orientation which results in higher leasing costs per square foot.
March 28, 2018
26
Unsafe
LaSalle Hotel Properties (LHO), a hotel REIT, cut its dividend by 50%. The firm saw revenue per available room decline in 2017 and expected another dip in 2018 as supply growth in many of its markets pressured the REIT's cash flow. 
March 26, 2018
15
Very Unsafe
Navios Maritime Midstream Partners L.P. (NAP) owns and operates tanker vessels. The company chopped its dividend by 70% in response to challenging market conditions and its need to maintain a healthy balance sheet. 
March 16, 2018
10
Very Unsafe
Five Oaks Investment Corp (OAK) dropped its dividend by 40% as a flattening yield curve hurt the mortgage REIT’s investment income. These businesses maintain high payout ratios and use significant financial leverage, so there is little margin for error. 
March 15, 2018
6
Very Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) cut its dividend by 16% as shorter term interest rates increased at a faster pace than longer term interest rates, pushing down the value of the REIT’s mortgage-related investments.
March 14, 2018
11
Very Unsafe
Alcentra Capital (ABDC) is a business development company that cut its dividend by 28% due to underperforming credit investments and yield compression. 
March 12, 2018
7
Very Unsafe
National CineMedia (NCMI) announced a 23% dividend cut as its profits fell and the heavily indebted cinema advertising company needed more cash to reinvest in its business as it combats declining movie theater traffic.
March 8, 2018
26
Unsafe
IDT (IDT) swung to a loss and decided to invest more heavily in its growth initiatives, leading the telecom business to cut its dividend by 53%
March 8, 2018
8
Very Unsafe
CYS Investments (CYS) reduced its dividend by 12% after the mortgage REIT was challenged by falling investment income. 
March 6, 2018
3
Very Unsafe
A year after reducing its dividend by 19% to conserve cash, Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust (WHLR) eliminated its dividend entirely in order to further improve the Retail REIT's weak balance sheet.
March 1, 2018
20
Very Unsafe
Colony NorthStar (CLNS) cut its dividend by 59%, sending its shares tumbling more than 20%. The REIT was challenged by negative headwinds in healthcare and across its retail broker-dealer distribution business. Combined with a dangerously high amount of debt, Colony NorthStar opted to cut its dividend to prioritize deleveraging and improve its financial flexibility.
February 28, 2018
56
Borderline
Circor (CIR) suspended its dividend after completing a transformative acquisition which doubled the size of its business. The engineered products manufacturer maintained a payout ratio near 10% and wasn’t owned by many investors for its dividend. Management wanted to pay down debt from the acquisition as quickly as possible, leading to the decision.
February 27, 2018
1
Very Unsafe
Frontier Communications (FTR) eliminated its dividend to save cash since the telecom company was losing money and on the path towards bankruptcy. 
February 22, 2018
79
Safe
MercadoLibre (MELI), the largest online commerce ecosystem in Latin America, decided to eliminate its dividend in favor of using all of its cash internally for growth. This dividend cut was difficult to catch in advance for several reasons.

Specifically, MercadoLibre reported 71% sales growth the quarter it announced its dividend suspension, its free cash flow payout ratio was below 15%, the company had no debt, and its cash totaled nearly $600 million compared to annual dividend commitments of approximately $27 million. 

Simply put, management's decision to stop the dividend was not due to the firm's financial health, but rather a change in capital allocation policy to take advantage of growth opportunities. Here was the company's statement: 

"After reviewing our capital allocation process the Board of Directors has concluded that the Company has multiple investment opportunities that should generate greater returns to shareholders through investing capital into the business than issuing a dividend. Consequently, the decision has been made to suspend the payment of dividend to shareholders as of the first quarter of 2018, as it will free up capital for investment in multiple projects in our various platforms."

There's no easy way to get in front of these situations that involve so much management discretion, but fortunately they are very rare. Sticking with companies that have longer histories of paying stable dividends can help, and that is one of the factors our Dividend Safety Score system reviews.

MercadoLibre's dividend was quite small (MELI's dividend yield was less than 0.2%), and its stock price was largely unchanged on the news (and up over 80% in the year leading up to the cut). In other words, not only were few investors likely to have owned this stock for income in the first place, but any who did could have moved on to another idea without incurring a capital loss.
February 21, 2018
20
Very Unsafe
Macquarie Infrastructure Company (MIC), the fuel storage infrastructure specialist, dropped its dividend by 31%, sending its stock price tumbling more than 40%. The dividend cut will conserve cash to help the highly leveraged MLP preserve its credit rating and invest in growth projects after failing to renew some oil client contracts.
February 20, 2018
4
Very Unsafe
Dine Brands Global (DIN) chopped its dividend by 35% as its Applebee's and IHOP restaurant chains struggled and the company maintained a very high debt load.
February 9, 2018
17
Very Unsafe
Oaktree Strategic Income (OCSI) was challenged by volatile investment income and a high payout ratio, forcing the business development company to reduce its dividend by 26%.
February 8, 2018
15
Very Unsafe
NuStar GP Holdings, LLC (NSH) cut its distribution by 40% as the indebted MLP struggled to cover its payout and no longer had affordable access to external financing.
February 8, 2018
9
Very Unsafe
Harvest Capital Credit (HCAP) reduced its dividend by 16% after experiencing a significant drop in investment income. Shortly after, the firm delayed filing its annual report, underscoring the risks, complexities, and challenges of investing in many business development companies. 
February 8, 2018
15
Very Unsafe
Oaktree Specialty Lending (OCSL) cut its dividend by 32% due to a decline in the business development company's investment income.   
February 8, 2018
8
Very Unsafe
NuStar Energy L.P. (NS) plunged as much as 21% on news that the pipeline operator was cutting its distribution by 45%. Costly acquisitions, hurricane damage, excessive financial leverage, and a need to free up more cash for investments were all factors. 
February 7, 2018
12
Very Unsafe
Collectors Universe (CLCT) lowered its dividend by 50% in response to a challenging quarter, an unsustainable payout ratio, and a need for the collectibles authenticator to redirect more cash toward growth opportunities. 
February 7, 2018
0
Very Unsafe
Navios Maritime Acquisition (NNA), an owner and operator of tanker vessels, cut its dividend by 60% to preserve cash as the business struggled with too much debt and weak end market conditions. 
January 31, 2018
28
Unsafe
Nevsun Resources (NSU) suspended its dividend. The base metals mining and exploration company desired to free up more cash to fund large development projects as it combatted operating losses and production challenges. 
January 5, 2018
13
Very Unsafe
Five Oaks Investment Corp (OAKS) slashed its dividend by 33% as a flattening yield curve hurt the mortgage REIT's investment income.
December 21, 2017
1
Very Unsafe
Bluerock Residential (BRG) announced a 44% reduction to its dividend driven by the apartment REIT's decision to internalize its external management structure and implement a more sustainable payout ratio. 
December 20, 2017
91
Very Safe
PG&E (PCG) suspended its dividend. Wildfires were causing extensive damage throughout California, and regulated utility PG&E was under investigation to see if it caused some of the fires. If so, the company would face a large liability. Per The Wall Street Journal, California’s legal framework renders utilities liable for damages from wildfires started by their equipment, even if they weren’t negligent.

PG&E decided to preserve cash by temporarily suspending its dividend until more is known about the ongoing situation. We are not sure much could have been done to get in front of this one. This was a rather binary outcome that seemed to have a low probability at the time and couldn’t be traced in PG&E’s financial statements, which were otherwise in decent shape, or identified in analysts' earnings estimates for the year ahead, which were healthy.
December 14, 2017
44
Borderline
Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) suspended its dividend entirely and was a great example of the dangers of debt. Prior to its dividend cut, Teva maintained a payout ratio below 30%, had paid uninterrupted dividends for more than 20 years, and was generating solid cash flow.

However, the company's debt spiked following its $40.5 billion acquisition of Actavis Generics in 2016. As generic drug prices came under pressure, Teva's urgency to conserve cash flow to service its debt load increased, ultimately resulting in two dividend cuts.

We have since added a new debt metric to our scoring system to better identify situations like Teva's, and we now also make use of forward-looking analyst estimates to spot companies with fundamentals that are more likely to continue deteriorating.
December 13, 2017
5
Very Unsafe
KCAP Financial (KCAP) was forced to lower its dividend by 17% due to a fall in its net investment income, which commonly causes issues for business development companies given their very high payout ratios.
December 12, 2017
13
Very Unsafe
Ellington Residential Mortgage REIT (EARN) reduced its dividend by 8% in response to a flattening yield curve, which reduced its net interest margin and core earnings. 
December 6, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
Fred’s (FRED) suspended its dividend. The regional discount chain faced a difficult competitive environment and couldn’t stem its operating losses. Coupled with a dangerously high amount of debt, Fred was forced to end its dividend.
November 13, 2017
18
Very Unsafe
General Electric (GE) cut its dividend by 50% to better align its payout with the firm's declining cash flow, preserve cash in light of its high financial leverage, and adjust its capital allocation framework under its new CEO. 
November 13, 2017
39
Unsafe
WisdomTree Investments (WETF) cut its dividend by 63%. ETF sponsors such as WisdomTree were under pressure to consolidate to keep their costs low. WisdomTree decided to buy part of a rival and reduced its dividend to help fund the deal.
November 9, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
FS Investment Corporation (FSIC) lowered its dividend by 15%. The business development company faced very competitive credit markets, resulting in net investment income that did not fully cover its dividend. As a result, management reducing the payout to a more sustainable level.
November 9, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
FS Investment (FSIC) lowered its dividend by 15% as underperforming investments and a high payout ratio weighed on the business development company.
November 8, 2017
11
Very Unsafe
CECO Environmental (CECE) eliminated its dividend. The provider of industrial air quality and fluid handling systems was challenged by weakness in energy markets, resulting in a double-digit decline in revenue and earnings. Although CECE’s payout ratio remained below 100%, management suspended the dividend as part of a sweeping restructuring plan to turn the business around and provide more financial flexibility.
November 8, 2017
25
Unsafe
Cameco (CCJ) slashed its dividend by 80% as depressed uranium prices eroded the energy producer's profits, pushing its payout ratio above 200%. The company had paid uninterrupted dividends for more than 20 years prior to the cut.
November 7, 2017
44
Borderline
EVERTEC (EVTC) is a small-cap transaction processing business with operations centered in Latin America. Despite having a payout ratio near 20% at the time, management decided to temporarily suspend the firm's dividend due to unstable and uncertain operating conditions in Puerto Rico. 

Interestingly, EVTC's stock price subsequently rallied more than 50%, and in September 2018 the company began paying dividends (albeit at half the previous payout amount). Regardless, our scoring system now handles smaller companies more conservatively, reflecting their generally more concentrated business activities and more dynamic capital allocation policies.
November 2, 2017
8
Very Unsafe
Alcentra Capital Corporation (ABDC) dropped its dividend by 27%. Underperforming investments and a high payout ratio led to the business development company's dividend reduction.
November 2, 2017
18
Very Unsafe
CBL & Associates Properties (CBL) cut its dividend by 25% as the REIT had too much debt and declining funds from operations.
November 2, 2017
1
Very Unsafe
RAIT Financial Trust (RAS) suspended its dividend. The provider of debt financing to commercial real estate owners was losing money and needed to reduce its leverage. Shares fell more than 10% on the news.
November 2, 2017
5
Very Unsafe
Franks International (FI) suspended its dividend. The provider of engineered tubular services for oil and gas producers was losing money following the crash in energy prices and wanted to preserve its liquidity for future investments.
November 1, 2017
5
Very Unsafe
Ellington Financial (EFC) cut its dividend by 9% in order to free up additional capital for new investments. 
October 31, 2017
12
Very Unsafe
Mosaic (MOS) cut its dividend by 83%. The phosphate and potash producer contended with weak fertilizer market conditions and wanted to free up cash it could use to reach its target leverage ratio faster.
October 30, 2017
16
Very Unsafe
Rent-A-Center (RCII) suspended its dividend. The lessor of durable goods, such as appliances and electronics, on a rent-to-own basis was losing money and experiencing same-store sales declines. Eliminating the dividend provided the company with more flexibility for its turnaround plans.
October 27, 2017
13
Very Unsafe
Concurrent (CCUR) suspended its dividend. Management desired to preserve the real estate and cash advance company’s liquidity while evaluating potential acquisition targets and alternative uses of the firm’s remaining assets following a series of business dispositions.
October 27, 2017
7
Very Unsafe
Westmoreland Resource Partners, LP (WMLP) eliminated its distribution. The thermal coal producer was challenged by weak market conditions and had too much debt. The partnership had to suspend distributions after its leverage ratio exceeded the limit allowed in its debt agreements, and the firm would declare bankruptcy one year later.
October 26, 2017
1
Very Unsafe
Toymaker Mattel (MAT) suspended its dividend after being hurt by its large customer Toys 'R' Us filing for bankruptcy. Mattel needed to strengthen its balance sheet and improve its financial flexibility to turn around its faltering business.
October 26, 2017
14
Very Unsafe
Suburban Propane Partners (SPH) ran into trouble as two consecutive warm winters reduced demand for its propane and further stretched its weak balance sheet, causing the firm to reduce its dividend by 32%.
October 25, 2017
20
Very Unsafe
Oceaneering International (OII) suspended its dividend. The provider of engineered services and products to the offshore energy market was challenged by very weak pricing conditions in the oil market and wanted to free up more cash for opportunities.
October 25, 2017
12
Very Unsafe
Waddell & Reed Financial (WDR) slashed its dividend by 46% as the investment manager continued experiencing asset outflows that pushed its payout ratio near 90%.
October 24, 2017
20
Very Unsafe
MidSouth Bancorp (MSL) cut its dividend by 89%. Energy loans accounted for more than 20% of the bank’s total loan portfolio. Weak oil prices resulted in numerous problem loans, pressuring earnings and ultimately impairing the bank’s ability to maintain its dividend. 
October 18, 2017
14
Very Unsafe
Greenhill & Co. (GHL) slashed its dividend by 89%. The boutique investment bank saw its revenue slump more than 30% as it advised on fewer M&A deals and struggled to compete with other advisers. Management needed to redirect more cash flow to debt repayment, necessitating the dividend cut.
October 12, 2017
22
Unsafe
Genesis Energy, LP (GEL) needed to strengthen its balance sheet in order to continue having access to affordable capital for its growth projects, forcing the midstream energy MLP to chop its distribution by 31%
October 6, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
National American University (NAUH) eliminated its dividend entirely as the accredited institution of higher learning was in desperate need to preserve liquidity given its operational struggles, large debt burden, and spiking payout ratio. 
September 15, 2017
51
Borderline
ATN International (ATNI), a small-cap telecom company, had increased its dividend for 20 consecutive years. Despite its healthy payout ratio and sub-3% yield, management decided to "strategically shift" the firm's capital allocation by reducing the firm’s dividend by 50% in favor of using the capital to invest more in growth opportunities. 

There is not an easy way to get in front of a shift like this when a firm's underlying fundamentals are solid, but we rate small-cap stocks more conservatively today since they can have more dynamic capital allocation policies over time.
September 14, 2017
11
Very Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) lowered its dividend by 10% as net interest margins declined due to higher mortgage prepayment levels and higher borrowing costs, which pressured the mortgage REIT’s high payout ratio. 
August 30, 2017
3
Very Unsafe
Ship Finance International (SFL) cut its dividend by 22% due to the soft tanker market and the company’s dangerously high debt load. 
August 30, 2017
2
Very Unsafe
Frontline (FRO) eliminated its dividend. The shipping company provides seaborne transportation of oil and was hurt by prolonged weakness in oil prices. As a result of soft shipping rates and too much industry supply, Frontline was losing money and opted not to resume paying dividends until it earned a profit.
August 28, 2017
11
Very Unsafe
Prospect Capital (PSEC) reduced its dividend by 28%. The business development company’s net investment income declined due to the firm’s desire to avoid riskier investments and reduce originations.
August 25, 2017
23
Unsafe
Plains GP Holdings LP (PAGP) needed to reduce debt to reach its targeted credit markets and lessen its dependence on raising growth capital via issuing equity. As a result, the midstream MLP slashed its distribution by 46%
August 25, 2017
19
Very Unsafe
Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. (PAA) needed to reduce debt to reach its targeted credit markets and lessen its dependence on raising growth capital via issuing equity. As a result, the midstream MLP slashed its distribution by 46%
August 10, 2017
39
Unsafe
Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CBI) completely eliminated its dividend despite maintaining a low payout ratio, sending its stock down over 25% on the news. The engineering and construction company was saddled with debt and dealing with depressed business results. 
August 10, 2017
10
Very Unsafe
Black Box (BBOX) suspended its dividend, sending its shares falling more than 40%. The IT infrastructure provider was saddled with debt and losing money, forcing it to amend its credit agreement. Stopping dividend payments freed up cash to help improve the company's financial health.
August 3, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
Windstream Holdings (WIN) saw its stock price plunge nearly 30% after it announced it was eliminating its dividend. The indebted telecom company was losing customers, needed to de-lever, and faced large expenditures to build out its fiber network.
August 3, 2017
44
Borderline
Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) cut its dividend by 75% and was a great example of the dangers of debt. Prior to its dividend cut, Teva maintained a payout ratio below 30%, had paid uninterrupted dividends for more than 20 years, and was generating solid cash flow.

However, the company's debt spiked following its $40.5 billion acquisition of Actavis Generics in 2016. As generic drug prices came under pressure, Teva's urgency to conserve cash flow to service its debt load increased, ultimately resulting in two dividend cuts (management suspended the dividend in December 2017).

We have since added a new debt metric to our scoring system to better identify situations like Teva's, and we now also make use of forward-looking analyst estimates to spot companies with fundamentals that are more likely to continue deteriorating.
August 3, 2017
2
Very Unsafe
RAIT Financial Trust (RAS) chopped its dividend by 44% as management stepped up efforts to lower financial leverage and refocus the business on its core commercial real estate lending operations. 
August 3, 2017
3
Very Unsafe
Teekay Offshore Partners L.P. (TOO), a marine energy transportation company, cut its distribution by 91% due to too much debt, falling distributable cash flow, and weak end market conditions.
August 3, 2017
1
Very Unsafe
Bristow Group (BRS) cut its dividend by 79% after a severe cyclical downturn in the offshore energy market caused the helicopter services business to operate at a loss. 
July 21, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
Nordic American Tankers (NAT) slashed its dividend by 25% due to the capital-intensive shipping company’s declining cash flow and weak balance sheet.
June 16, 2017
12
Very Unsafe
Arlington Asset Investment Corp (AI) lowered its dividend by 12% to strengthen the investment firm’s balance sheet and better protect itself from instability in the mortgage sector.
June 14, 2017
4
Very Unsafe
Ampco-Pittsburgh Corporation (AP), an engineering products business, suspended its dividend entirely to put the funds towards debt repayment and growth initiatives to turn the unprofitable company around.
June 14, 2017
2
Very Unsafe
Mattel (MAT) cut its dividend by 61% due to its unsustainable payout ratio, high debt load, and need to reinvest for growth as its iconic toy brands, such as Barbie, struggled in an increasingly digital world. 
June 12, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
CIM Commercial Trust (CMCT), an office REIT, reduced its dividend by 43% as its payout ratio was too high after divesting various properties. 
May 22, 2017
2
Very Unsafe
Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust (WHLR) slashed its dividend by 19% to conserve cash due to the retail REIT’s heavy debt load. 
May 18, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
Stage Stores (SSI) announced a 67% reduction to its dividend in response to a weak retail environment and the firm’s need to strengthen its balance sheet.
May 17, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
Stein Mart (SMRT) responded to a weak retail environment, its heavy debt load, and declining earnings by eliminating its dividend entirely.
May 17, 2017
55
Borderline
Tegna (TGNA) cut its dividend in half. The owner of TV and radio stations in 2017 spun off Cars.com, which does not pay dividends, and implemented a new capital structure and capital return policy going forward. Proceeds from the spinoff were used to help reduce the company’s high debt load.
May 10, 2017
11
Very Unsafe
Time Inc. (TIME) chopped its dividend by 79% due to a severe decline in print advertising revenue and the company’s substantial amount of debt. Shares plunged 17% on the news.
May 10, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
Nature’s Sunshine Products (NATR) eliminated its dividend. Although the nutritional and personal care products manufacturer reported growth in revenue and net income and maintained a reasonable balance sheet, management wanted to free up more capital to fund the firm’s expansion in China.
May 9, 2017
9
Very Unsafe
Medley Capital (MCC) was forced to lower its dividend by 27% as a result of the business development company’s decreasing net investment income and high payout ratio.
May 2, 2017
5
Very Unsafe
Frontier Communications (FTR), a telecom services provider, announced a 62% cut to its dividend after struggling with customer losses and too much financial leverage.
April 28, 2017
33
Unsafe
Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. (EEP) was challenged by weak commodity markets, heavy debt, and a need to internally fund more of its growth projects. As a result, the midstream energy MLP decreased its distribution by 40%.
April 28, 2017
13
Very Unsafe
Enbridge Energy Management, LLC (EEQ) chopped its dividend by 40% in order to strengthen its balance sheet and maintain a more sustainable coverage ratio. The energy company’s cash flow was hurt from weak commodity markets.
April 21, 2017
4
Very Unsafe
CSI Compressco LP (CCLP) suffered from high debt and weak energy prices. As a result, the natural gas company reduced its dividend by 50%.
March 23, 2017
46
Borderline
Superior Industries (SUP), a small-cap vehicle wheel manufacturer, cut its dividend by 50%. The firm announced a transformative acquisition to nearly double in size. Due to its higher cost of financing as a smaller company, management reduced the dividend to help afford the deal. 

Superior Industries had paid uninterrupted dividends for more than 20 years prior to this event, so the cut was a surprise that could not have been predicted ahead of time without knowing the firm's intentions to make a big acquisition. We treat smaller firms more conservatively today to recognize their generally more dynamic capital allocation policies.
March 22, 2017
3
Very Unsafe
Dynex Capital (DX) slashed its dividend by 14% when the mortgage REIT was faced with higher interest rates, rising financing costs, and an unsustainable payout ratio.
March 16, 2017
2
Very Unsafe
New York Mortgage Trust (NYMT) experienced financial difficulties resulting in a dividend reduction of 17% when financial and bond markets became more volatile.
March 16, 2017
7
Very Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage (CMO) struggled after portfolio yields did not improve as management had expected. As a result, the mortgage REIT cut its dividend by 9%.
March 14, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
OHA Investment Corporation’s (OHAI) portfolio invested too much in weak energy companies, hurting its profitability. In order to help the highly leveraged business development company recover, its dividend was lowered by 67%.
March 13, 2017
4
Very Unsafe
Cypress Energy Partners, L.P. (CELP) is a pipeline services provider to the energy industry. In order to conserve cash due to its heavy debt load and softening commodity prices, the company chopped its distribution by 48%.
March 9, 2017
27
Unsafe
Manning & Napier (MN), an investment manager, experienced a meaningful decline in its assets under its management. As a result of its falling earnings and elevated payout ratio near 100%, the firm’s dividend was slashed by 50%.
March 8, 2017
5
Very Unsafe
BlackRock Capital Investment Corporation (BKCC) lowered its dividend 14% in response to underperforming investments the business development company had made in the troubled oil and gas sector.
March 2, 2017
14
Very Unsafe
TICC Capital (TICC) reduced its dividend by 31% as tighter loan spreads reduced the business development company’s investment income.
February 28, 2017
1
Very Unsafe
Seaspan (SSW), a water vessel leasing company, was challenged by excess industry supply and heavy debt. Management dropped the dividend by 67%.
February 27, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
Kindred Healthcare (KND) suspended its dividend in order to repay debt and free up more capital for growth. The home healthcare services company was losing money and operated with too much leverage.
February 23, 2017
21
Unsafe
Nevsun Resources (NSU), a base metals mining and exploration company, found itself needing more cash to fund large projects as it encountered production challenges and declining profitability. The business cut its dividend by 75%.
February 16, 2017
27
Unsafe
GNC Holdings (GNC) eliminated its dividend entirely after the health and wellness products retailer faced falling same-store sales and high debt.
February 15, 2017
12
Very Unsafe
Educational Development Corp. (EDUC) eliminated its dividend. The publisher of children’s books was growing rapidly but also maintained substantial debt. To continue funding its growth, the company amended its debt covenants which required it to suspend its dividend. 
February 15, 2017
19
Very Unsafe
Equity One (EQY) reduced its dividend by 18% as the shopping center REIT struggled with its high payout ratio and the continued rise of online shopping. 
February 13, 2017
14
Very Unsafe
Highway Holdings (HIHO), an industrial components manufacturer, chopped its dividend by 30% as it faced declining sales, lower profitability, a high payout ratio, and a dangerous amount of financial leverage.
February 13, 2017
6
Very Unsafe
Scorpio Tankers (STNG) slashed its dividend by 92% as a result of the tank vessel company’s heavy debt and declining cash flow as petroleum transportation markets remained weak.
February 9, 2017
11
Very Unsafe
Fifth Street Finance Corp (FSC) slashed its dividend by 61% as the business development company responded to its declining investment income, excessive financial leverage, and need to restructure.
February 9, 2017
27
Unsafe
Columbia Property Trust (CXP) cut its dividend by 33% due to the office REIT’s disposal of lower quality properties and need to strengthen its balance sheet.
February 9, 2017
18
Very Unsafe
Alon USA Partners, LP (ALDW), an integrated downstream oil refinery company, dropped its dividend by 27% after the MLP experienced declining sales, falling distributable cash flow, and increasingly risk credit metrics. 
February 7, 2017
16
Very Unsafe
The Mosaic Company (MOS), a phosphate and potash producer, cut its dividend by 46% after weak fertilizer markets, declining cash flow, and too much debt pressured the business. 
January 25, 2017
16
Very Unsafe
Ericsson (ERIC), a diversified communications equipment provider, responded to challenging telecom market conditions and its heavy debt burden by reducing its dividend by 73%.
January 25, 2017
31
Unsafe
Meridian Bioscience (VIVO) turned to slashing its dividend by 38% as the life science company’s most profitable segment was weak and recovering slower than expected, creating a dangerously high payout ratio. The stock was down over 20% on the news.
January 23, 2017
0
Very Unsafe
Nordic American Tankers (NAT) lowered its dividend by 23% as weak shipping market conditions caused cash flow to decline, the company’s balance sheet was strained, and the capital-intensive tanker business needed to preserve capital. 
January 18, 2017
17
Very Unsafe
Pearson (PSO) suffered from declining demand for its textbooks and its significant financial leverage. The educational products company reduced its dividend by 72%.
January 3, 2017
1
Very Unsafe
ARMOUR Residential REIT (ARR) experienced declining revenue and needed to conserve cash due to its heavy debt load and high payout ratio. The mortgage REIT lowered its dividend by 14%.
December 15, 2016
0
Very Unsafe
Resource Capital Corporation (RSO) suffered from underperforming debt investments, high financial leverage, and an unsustainable payout ratio. In response, the mortgage REIT slashed its dividend by 88%.
December 14, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
KCAP Financial (KCAP) is a business development company that cut its dividend by 20% due to falling net investment income and its stretched balanced sheet.
December 13, 2016
28
Unsafe
Liberty Property Trust (LPT), an industrial and office REIT, reduced its dividend by 16% in response to the company’s restructuring and asset sales, which will reduce future cash flow. 
December 12, 2016
21
Unsafe
Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET) cut its dividend by 46%. The residential REIT's payout was no longer covered by its cash flow, and the firm carried too much debt. Management desired more financial flexibility to improve and grow IRET's portfolio of multifamily properties. 
December 12, 2016
12
Very Unsafe
Investors Real Estate Trust (IRT) cut its dividend by 46% as the diversified REIT combatted a high payout ratio and declining cash flow caused by volatile energy markets and increased supply. 
December 8, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
CoreCivic (CXW), a REIT providing prison facilities used by government agencies, slashed its dividend by 22% due to declining cash flow and regulatory headwinds as several federal agencies considered ending their use of privately run prisons.
December 7, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Comtech Telecommunications (CMTL) was strained by its significant financial leverage and challenging business conditions. The communications equipment business cut its dividend by 67%.
December 1, 2016
2
Very Unsafe
Allegheny Technologies (ATI), a specialty metals manufacturer, suspended its dividend entirely due to weak end markets and a desperate need to shore up its indebted balance sheet.
November 21, 2016
6
Very Unsafe
PennantPark (PNNT) reduced its dividend by 36% after the investment firm suffered from weak energy markets, falling yields, and decreasing investment income.
November 18, 2016
9
Very Unsafe
Daxor Corporation (DXR), a medical and biotechnology company, lowered its dividend by 33% to free up cash for investment.  
November 9, 2016
4
Very Unsafe
THL Credit (TCRD) was challenged by lower yields and refused to invest in riskier assets. Combined with its high payout ratio, the business development company was forced to reduce its dividend by 21%.
November 9, 2016
4
Very Unsafe
Garrison Capital (GARS) reduced its dividend by 20%. The business development company suffered several debt investment losses, pushing its payout ratio above 100%. Combined with management’s more conservative lending guidelines, Garrison Capital needed to realign its dividend with its lower earnings projection going forward.
November 2, 2016
25
Unsafe
Horizon Technology Finance (HRZN) slashed its dividend by 13% as the business development company experienced lower interest income due to its shrinking loan portfolio.
October 31, 2016
28
Unsafe
Ellington Financial (EFC), a mortgage REIT, lowered its dividend by 10% after bond volatility hurt the value of its investment portfolio. 
October 28, 2016
18
Very Unsafe
North European Oil Royalty Trust (NRT) chopped its dividend by 48% in response to weak energy markets and delayed royalty payments.
October 28, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
Westmoreland Resource Partners, LP (WMLP) needed to preserve cash after being affected by a weak thermal coal market. The highly indebted energy MLP slashed its distribution by 33% to help with its recovery.
October 27, 2016
34
Unsafe
StoneMor Partners (STON) had increased its distribution each year since 2005 prior to announcing a 50% cut. The stock collapsed 45% on the news. The operator or cemeteries and funeral homes was experiencing sluggish revenue growth due to the rise in popularity of cremation over traditional burials. StoneMor Partners also operated with significant financial leverage, and its payout ratio had climbed to unsustainable levels in recent years.  
October 27, 2016
38
Unsafe
Telefonica (TEF) needed to accelerate its debt reduction efforts in order to preserve its investment grade credit rating. The telecommunications company slashed its dividend by 25%.
October 27, 2016
33
Unsafe
Oceaneering International (OII) cut its dividend by 44% despite its healthy free cash flow generation and balance sheet. The provider of engineered services and products to the offshore energy market believed it to be prudent to cut its payout given weak oil prices.
October 21, 2016
4
Very Unsafe
Martin Midstream Partners (MMLP) was hurt by lower oil prices, too much financial leverage, and a need to preserve cash in light of its increasing cost of capital. The midstream energy MLP reduced its distribution by 39%.
October 12, 2016
15
Very Unsafe
Diebold (DBD) acquired Wincor Nixdorf for $1.9 billion, which negatively impacted the company’s balance sheet. The services, software, and hardware company responded by lowering its dividend by 65% to help its deleveraging efforts.
September 27, 2016
12
Very Unsafe
Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. (FGP) cut its distribution by 81%. In an effort to diversify its business, in June 2015 the propane distributor paid $837.5 million to acquire Bridger Logistics, a midstream energy company. This deal saddled Ferrellgas with debt, forcing management to slash the distribution to protect the balance sheet when oil prices remained low and various legal issues arose.
September 21, 2016
20
Very Unsafe
Viacom (VIA) chopped its dividend by 50% in order to strengthen the media company’s balance sheet, improve its liquidity and invest in opportunities to grow its core business. 
September 19, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) suffered from a heavy debt load, a high payout ratio, and bad publicity surrounding its killer whale shows. The company responded by dropping its dividend by 52% and eliminating it completely one quarter later.
August 22, 2016
12
Very Unsafe
San Juan Basin Royalty Trust (SJT) experienced financial turmoil from lower gas prices, resulting in a 34% decrease to its dividend.
August 19, 2016
14
Very Unsafe
Mesa Royalty Trust (MTR) responded to lower gas prices by reducing its dividend by 36%. 
August 19, 2016
6
Very Unsafe
Marine Petroleum Trust (MARPS) lowered its dividend by 41% in response to declining earnings caused by lower oil prices.
August 18, 2016
5
Very Unsafe
Communications Systems (JCS), a network services and architecture company, cut its dividend by 75% as it was losing money and wanted to direct more resources towards growth initiatives.
August 9, 2016
18
Very Unsafe
Houston Wire & Cable (HWCC) responded to weak industrial demand, depressed energy markets, and its net losses by slashing its dividend by 50%.
August 9, 2016
20
Very Unsafe
Medley Capital (MCC) reduced its dividend by 27% after the business development company experienced falling net investment income.
August 9, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
Textainer Group (TGH) needed to conserve cash due to container lessor company’s heavy debt load and low prices for new and used containers. They dropped their dividend by 88%.
August 4, 2016
13
Very Unsafe
Computer Programs (CPSI) lowered their dividend by 47% as they moved to a variable dividend policy in response to fluctuation in sales and profits and too much financial leverage.
August 4, 2016
23
Unsafe
Apollo Investment (AINV) suffered from high financial leverage and reduced its dividend by 25% as part of the management investment company’s restructuring strategy.
August 4, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Textainer Group Holdings Limited (TGH), a container leasing company, cut its dividend by 88% as it struggled with its high debt load and weak market conditions.
August 4, 2016
40
Unsafe
PDL BioPharma (PDLI) eliminated its dividend entirely in order to free up cash for strategic investments and provide financing for long-term growth.
August 4, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Calumet Specialty Products Parnters, L.P. (CLMT), a producer of petroleum-based specialty products, eliminated its distribution to strengthen its balance sheet and preserve capital.
August 3, 2016
4
Very Unsafe
Murphy Oil (MUR), an oil and gas exploration and production company, responded to depressed commodity prices and ongoing operating losses by cutting its dividend by 29%.
August 2, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
Medallion Financial (MFIN) struggled with an underperforming loan portfolio and weak liquidity. This resulted in the specialty finance company dropping its dividend by 80%.
August 2, 2016
6
Very Unsafe
Evolving Systems (EVOL), an application software company, suspended its dividend in order to improve its financial flexibility and fund various growth initiatives.
August 1, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
Williams (WMB) reduced its dividend by 69% due to weak energy markets and a need to protect the natural gas company’s credit rating.
July 29, 2016
18
Very Unsafe
North European Oil Royalty Trust (NRT) encountered trouble with depressed energy markets and delayed royalty payments, leading the firm to reduce its dividend by 38%.
July 28, 2016
18
Very Unsafe
CVR Partners (UAN) was losing money, so the indebted nitrogen fertilizer company responded by lowering its dividend by 37%
July 28, 2016
9
Very Unsafe
Potash (POT), a potash, nitrogen, and phosphate products company, lowered its dividend by 60% due to weak fertilizer markets.
July 27, 2016
23
Unsafe
American Capital Agency (AGNC), a mortgage REIT, cut its dividend by 10% due to volatile market conditions, unfavorable interest rate fluctuations, and its high payout ratio.  
July 26, 2016
23
Unsafe
Seadrill Partners LLC (SDLP) wanted to improve its liquidity position after numerous energy customers cancelled their contracts. The offshore drilling rig company reduced its dividend by 60%.
July 19, 2016
29
Unsafe
Cross Timbers Royalty Trust (CRT) decided to drop its dividend by 11% in response to lower oil and gas volumes and its high payout ratio.
July 18, 2016
82
Very Safe
Ecology and Environment (EEI) is a micro-cap stock that had very solid financial health, but management decided it wanted to invest more for growth, freeing up additional cash for reinvestment by reducing the firm’s dividend by 17%

There was not much we could have done to flag this dividend cut ahead of time since management’s decision to reduce the dividend had almost nothing to do with the company’s actual fundamentals. However, we treat micro-caps with greater conservatism today in recognition of their generally more dynamic capital allocation policies.
July 11, 2016
7
Very Unsafe
Plains GP Holdings, L.P. (PAGP) was hurt by lower oil prices, leading the midstream energy infrastructure company to lower its distribution by 11% in order to preserve capital.
July 11, 2016
9
Very Unsafe
Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. (PAA), an energy infrastructure and natural gas company, slashed its distribution by 21% to preserve capital after being hurt by lower oil prices.
June 17, 2016
8
Very Unsafe
Daktronics (DAKT), a company that manufactures electronic entertainment technology, announced a 40% decrease to its regular dividend in order to add a special, less predictable dividend going forward.
June 9, 2016
2
Very Unsafe
Universal Technical Institute (UTI), a provider of automotive technician training, cut its dividend entirely. The education company was losing money. 
June 9, 2016
23
Unsafe
Capstead Mortgage (CMO), a mortgage REIT, struggled with volatile investment income, a high payout ratio, and substantial debt. As a result, management cut the firm’s dividend by 12%
June 8, 2016
5
Very Unsafe
RF Industries (RFIL), a manufacturer of electronic components and cabling solutions, chopped its dividend by 71% as the company was losing money and needed to preserve capital. 
June 8, 2016
15
Very Unsafe
CYS Investments (CYS) lowered its dividend by 4% as the mortgage REIT combated volatile interest rates and a high payout ratio.
June 3, 2016
27
Unsafe
Sabine Royalty Trust (SBR) slashed its dividend by 38% in response to lower oil and gas volumes and prices. 
May 20, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
Marine Petroleum Trust (MARPS) lowered its dividend by 18% in response to damage caused by lower oil prices.
May 20, 2016
17
Very Unsafe
San Juan Basin Royalty Trust (SJT) experienced financial turmoil from lower gas prices, resulting in a 32% decrease to its dividend.
May 20, 2016
26
Unsafe
Cross Timbers Royalty (CRT) was hurt by lower oil prices and its high payout ratio, resulting in a 13% decrease to its dividend.
May 13, 2016
19
Very Unsafe
United-Guardian (UG), a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, cut its dividend by 30% after experiencing marketing problems in China which caused sales to drop nearly 50%.
May 9, 2016
9
Very Unsafe
OCI Partners LP (OCIP) suffered as prices of methanol, ammonia, and natural gas dropped. The indebted and capital-intensive methanol and ammonia producer lowered its dividend by 81%
May 9, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
TheStreet (TST) eliminated its dividend entirely in response to the financial news and information provider’s operating losses and need to restructure the company.
May 4, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Legacy Reserves LP (LGCY), an oil and natural gas development company, suspended its dividend as it dealt with depressed energy prices. The firm needed to strengthen its indebted balance sheet and preserve capital. 
April 27, 2016
2
Very Unsafe
EV Energy Partners, LP (EVEP) eliminated its dividend after the oil and gas company was challenged by ongoing net losses, volatile energy markets, and dangerously high financial leverage. The firm filed for bankruptcy two years later.
April 27, 2016
10
Very Unsafe
Carlyle Group (CG) responded to challenging market conditions by issuing a 10% reduction to the asset management company’s dividend.
April 26, 2016
26
Unsafe
Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. (ARLP) lowered its distribution by 35% as it attempted to recover from a weak coal market and too much debt on its balance sheet.
April 26, 2016
33
Unsafe
Alliance Holdings GP, L.P. (AHGP) cut its distribution by 41% as depressed coal prices lowered its distributable cash flow and further strained its indebted balance sheet. 
April 26, 2016
2
Very Unsafe
Memorial Production (MEMP) experienced weak industry conditions that forced the indebted energy MLP to reduce its distribution by 70%.
April 25, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Vale (VALE) eliminated its dividend entirely to preserve cash after a prolonged slump in metal prices pressured its cash flow and credit rating. 
April 21, 2016
4
Very Unsafe
NGL Energy Partners, LP (NGL) slashed its distribution by 39% in response to low commodity prices and its need to conserve cash due to the midstream energy MLP’s high financial leverage and payout ratio.
April 11, 2016
5
Very Unsafe
National Oilwell Varco (NOV) cut its dividend by 89% to preserve cash flow and keep its balance sheet healthy in response to plunging oil prices. 
February 29, 2016
0
Very Unsafe
CONSOL Energy (CNX) responded to weak natural gas and coal prices, which caused the indebted company to lose money, by suspending its dividend.
February 25, 2016
29
Unsafe
Goldcorp (GG) experienced weak production levels and a needed to maintain a strong balance sheet, resulting in the gold production company lowering its dividend by 67%. Goldcorp’s stock dropped more than 10% on the news. 
February 23, 2016
5
Very Unsafe
BHP Billiton (BHP) was hurt by a rout in commodity markets that sent the diversified miner’s earnings tumbling. To protect its solid credit rating, BHP slashed its dividend by 87%, marking its first reduction since 1988.
February 16, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Devon Energy (DVN) cut its dividend by 75% to protect the oil and gas producer’s balance sheet during challenging energy markets.
February 9, 2016
1
Very Unsafe
Anadarko Petroleum (APC) needed to preserve cash during while energy markets remained weak. The oil and natural gas company lowered its dividend by 81%.
February 4, 2016
17
Very Unsafe
ConocoPhillips (COP) was burning through cash due to the oil price cash. Due to its need to protect its balance sheet and preserve cash, the oil and gas exploration and production company cut its dividend by 66%, its first reduction in more than 25 years.
January 26, 2016
3
Very Unsafe
Noble Energy (NBL) suffered from weak energy markets and a needed to preserve cash. The oil and gas producer therefore lowered its dividend by 44%
December 8, 2015
8
Very Unsafe
Kinder Morgan (KMI), an energy infrastructure giant, slashed its dividend by 75% to preserve cash. The pipeline company’s dividend cut gave it the capital it needed to fund its expansion plans while allowing it to maintain an investment grade credit rating. Companies that depend on raising capital from debt and equity markets to fund their dividends and growth projects can be forced to make difficult decisions if their access to capital becomes strained.