U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 21 mins

GE's dividend cut is the largest ever by a US company outside of the financial crisis

Bob Pisani
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images. GE's move to shore up its finances put it in the Wall Street history books.ni.

It doesn't sound like much

: General Electric is cutting its dividend from 96 cents a year to 48 cents. But GE

(NYSE: GE)

has a lot of shares outstanding: 8.67 billion.

Reducing the dividend by 48 cents with 8.67 billion shares outstanding means shareholders are getting $4.1 billion less in dividends each year.On an historic basis, that's a lot.It's the eighth-largest dividend cut in the history of the S&P 500 by dollar value:Two points to make:GE had the largest dividend cut of all time, in 2009.All the largest dividend cuts made prior to Monday were made during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.That means GE's most recent cut would be the biggest cut of all time on a dollar basis outside the financial crisis, according to S&P Global data.You have to go to Kinder Morgan, which cut its dividend by $3.4 billion in December 2015, and ConocoPhillips, which cut the dividend $2.5 billion in February 2016, to find dividend cuts around this size outside the financial crisis. Both, of course, are energy stocks.Dividend cuts are fairly rare, and with good reason: Investors have been willing to pay a lot for higher yields.Through Friday, 310 companies in the S&P 500 have increased their dividend this year, only nine have decreased them. GE makes it 10.

The other dividend cutters this year include DowDuPont

(NYSE: DWDP)

, Mosaic

(NYSE: MOS)

(twice), Mattel

(NASDAQ: MAT)

(twice), Xerox

(NYSE: XRX)

, and Progressive

(NYSE: PGR)

.

What's all this mean? For the moment, it appears that GE is a bit of a one-off.Howard Silverblatt, who watches dividends for S&P, noted that the "overall dividend picture is very positive, as companies have record earnings, with cash also at a record, and cash-flow good; additionally the bleeding in energy related issues appears to have stopped."Indeed, Silverblatt notes that dividend payments for the S&P 500 are at a record in Q3,'17: $105.4 billion, same for Q4. This would be a sixth-consecutive annual record.

It doesn't sound like much

: General Electric is cutting its dividend from 96 cents a year to 48 cents. But GE

(NYSE: GE)

has a lot of shares outstanding: 8.67 billion.

Reducing the dividend by 48 cents with 8.67 billion shares outstanding means shareholders are getting $4.1 billion less in dividends each year.

On an historic basis, that's a lot.

It's the eighth-largest dividend cut in the history of the S&P 500 by dollar value:

Two points to make:

GE had the largest dividend cut of all time, in 2009.

All the largest dividend cuts made prior to Monday were made during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

That means GE's most recent cut would be the biggest cut of all time on a dollar basis outside the financial crisis, according to S&P Global data.

You have to go to Kinder Morgan, which cut its dividend by $3.4 billion in December 2015, and ConocoPhillips, which cut the dividend $2.5 billion in February 2016, to find dividend cuts around this size outside the financial crisis. Both, of course, are energy stocks.

Dividend cuts are fairly rare, and with good reason: Investors have been willing to pay a lot for higher yields.

Through Friday, 310 companies in the S&P 500 have increased their dividend this year, only nine have decreased them. GE makes it 10.

The other dividend cutters this year include DowDuPont

(NYSE: DWDP)

, Mosaic

(NYSE: MOS)

(twice), Mattel

(NASDAQ: MAT)

(twice), Xerox

(NYSE: XRX)

, and Progressive

(NYSE: PGR)

.

What's all this mean? For the moment, it appears that GE is a bit of a one-off.

Howard Silverblatt, who watches dividends for S&P, noted that the "overall dividend picture is very positive, as companies have record earnings, with cash also at a record, and cash-flow good; additionally the bleeding in energy related issues appears to have stopped."

Indeed, Silverblatt notes that dividend payments for the S&P 500 are at a record in Q3,'17: $105.4 billion, same for Q4. This would be a sixth-consecutive annual record.



More From CNBC