BP CEO Tony Hayward has indicated that he will go ahead with massive dividend payouts to shareholders in the aftermath of the worst oil spill in US history. $10 billion in payouts are scheduled for this year. The cost of the spill has been estimated in the tens of billions, but ExxonMobil only ended up paying a $507 million settlement for the 1994 Exxon Valdez spill after 20 years of appeals.
BP's dividend ratio is now at 7.4 percent per year, more than twice the average payout of companies listed in the S&P 500. This means that US investors who hold BP stock effectively earn 7.4% interest on their shares -- more when US tax law is taken into account -- in addition to any gains or losses as a result of price shifts in the stock's value.
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