The profits of CAC 40 groups satisfy shareholders and inflate inflation


On the eve of a demonstration to defend the health system, in Nantes, June 15, 2020.

The publication of the results of CAC 40 companies and even more the announcement of generous dividends never fail to raise protests and controversy. This year will be no exception to the rule. The 2022 results will in fact make it possible to redistribute a large part of the profits to shareholders, who have already received excellent returns last year for the 2021 financial year: 81.6 billion euros (+ 16.5 %): 57.9 billion in dividends and 23.7 billion in share buybacks, according to the specialized letter

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In Europe, the sums paid will be “a slight increase again in 2023”, indicates the annual study of Allianz Global Investors, published at the end of January. In France, three-quarters of CAC 40 companies have already announced increases in dividends, which will cushion the index’s 9.5% decline last year. Consistent with its long-term policy, TotalEnergies will increase it by 44%, and Engie, which has returned to better fortune, by 64%. In luxury, Hermès announced 62%, L’Oréal 25% and LVMH 20%. Airbus will raise it by 20%, the construction and concessions giant Vinci by 38%. Even Renault will make a small gesture, despite its losses. In total, dividends will increase by 29%, six times more than in the United States. The yield per share is also very good, ranging from 9.9% at Engie and 9% at Crédit Agricole to 5.9% for Axa and 5.6% for Bouygues.

The year 2023 will confirm a trend observed in recent years: the rise in share buybacks. Some 15 billion have already been announced, twice as much as in March 2022. Common across the Atlantic, where it provides more than half of the return to shareholders, this practice is gaining ground in France. It boosts the value of securities and allows a redistribution of profits cheaply, since this capital is not subject to tax, unlike dividends. These operations relaunch the debate on the sharing of value within companies, especially the most profitable, while the wage increases of 2022-2023 have not compensated for a persistent rise in prices.

“Sharing Value”

For their supporters, dividends and share buybacks are not a “gift” to shareholders, but first and foremost a means of circulating wealth by reallocating a scarce resource, the equity of companies that no longer have it. utility, to new societies which need it to develop. Pure speculative operations, reply the opponents of overly generous mechanisms, which deprive employees of a fair reward for their efforts. Coming from the left and the unions, these criticisms target both the leaders of multinationals and the government, called upon to impose more redistribution within companies, and incidentally to tax superprofits that do not always correspond to the efforts of companies.

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