Capital One Financial Corp. joined the parade of financial institutions cutting dividends to conserve cash, slashing its quarterly payout 87% to save some $500 million a year.
A litany of major banks that to date hadn't lowered their dividend have done so the past several weeks recent weeks, most recently the 85% cut announced Friday by Wells Fargo & Co.
Dividend reductions are already at record levels this year, largely on the cuts at financial institutions that include General Electric Co., which has a big finance operation and it at the heart of concerns about that conglomerate.
Amid the "unprecedented economic and market conditions," Capital One's highest priority is managing our balance sheet to maintain its considerable strength and resilience," said Chairman and Chief Executive Richard D. Fairbank on Monday. Investors, he added, indicate "they value strong capital positions over dividend streams at this point in the cycle."
Chief Financial Officer Gary L. Perlin added the bank and credit-card issuer's capital "remains stable and strong relative to the risks we face," while "our increasingly liquid and lower-risk balance sheet provides us with many choices we can make to manage our capital."
Capital One sold $3.55 billion in preferred stock and warrants to the U.S. Treasury Department to raise capital as part of the agency's $250 billion capital-infusion effort.
Although the broader economic outlook "is somewhat weaker than expected, and subject to a greater level of uncertainty," credit trends within the company's own portfolio "have been roughly in-line with expectations through February," Fairbank said.
The credit-card issuer said in January it wrote off an additional $1 billion for bad loans in the fourth quarter and posted a worse-than-expected loss due to a rising default rate.
Capital One shares closed Friday at $8.31, and there was no premarket trading. The stock lost 31% last week and is down 74% this year.