FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - Shareholders of companies in the Dax family can look forward to a record total dividend payout this year. At an estimated 62.5 billion euros, the payout volume of the 160 companies will exceed the previous year's figure by 1.6 percent, according to calculations by the Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für Wertpapierbesitz (DSW) in cooperation with the Institute for Strategic Finance at the FOM University of Applied Sciences. "This is the third dividend record in a row," said study author Christian Rohl on Monday.

"However, the new record does not allow any valid conclusions to be drawn about the overall situation of the German economy, but is primarily the result of the strength of the globally positioned DAX companies," said Rohl.

Shareholders of companies in the top German stock market league are benefiting particularly strongly from the windfall. At 53.8 billion euros, the total dividend payout of the 40 DAX companies is higher than at any time since the first analysis in 2012, as calculated by the consulting firm EY. This is 2.4 percent more than last year. 24 companies are paying a higher dividend this year than in the previous year, although five companies are paying out nothing to their shareholders.

The total dividend amount rose even though the DAX companies earned less overall last year. According to EY, the combined group results fell by six percent to 120.9 billion euros. However, the payout ratio - i.e. the share of dividend payments in total profits - "at 44.5 percent is still below the 5-year average of 47.6 percent and therefore at a solid and reasonable level," explained EY partner Mathieu Meyer.

According to EY's calculations, the largest payer this year is the car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz(5.5 billion euros) - despite a slight decrease of 0.7 percent in the amount distributed, closely followed by the Munich-based insurance group Allianz with an increase of 18 percent to 5.4 billion euros. Volkswagen took third place with 4.5 billion euros. The car manufacturer increased its dividend payout by three percent. The shareholders of Porsche AG can look forward to a particularly significant increase: according to EY, the car manufacturer increased its payout by 129 percent to 2.1 billion euros.

Deteriorating economic prospects leave open how long the dividend boom will continue, said Meyer. "The economic situation is gloomy, and both the economic and political risks are becoming greater rather than smaller." More and more DAX companies are announcing tough cost-cutting programs in the face of falling quarterly profits. "If the pressure on profits continues this year, dividend payouts will probably also be put to the test," predicted Meyer.

For shareholders of smaller and medium-sized companies, this year's windfall will be lower in some cases. According to DSW, the 50 companies in the MDax will pay out an estimated total of 5.734 billion euros to shareholders - a drop of 13.4 percent compared to the previous year. With an increase of 48.8 percent, the total amount distributed by the SDax companies rose to an estimated EUR 3.841 billion, but this was attributable to 70 companies. Not even half of the companies listed on the MDax and SDax increased their dividends, explained Rohl. The dividends for the past financial year are paid after the Annual General Meeting./evy/DP/jha