Last Updated on 21 November, 2023 by Samuelsson
We believe the Nordic region is a good place to invest. It’s safe and it scores well on ease of doing business, despite its reputation for being “socialistic”. We remind you about the reasons why we believe it’s a good place to invest:
Finland is most probably the least likely place to invest for many. That’s a shame, because Finland has many interesting and good companies. Nokia and Kone is probably the most well-known, but this list contains almost 40 stocks, indicating Helsinki offers many investment options.
Previous articles in this dividend series:
- The best British dividend stocks (Best UK dividend stocks)
- The best Swiss dividend stocks
- The best French dividend stocks
- The best German dividend stocks
- The best Italian dividend stocks
- The best Danish dividend stocks
- The best Norwegian dividend stocks
- The best Swedish dividend stocks
Why invest in dividend stocks?
Because most good businesses throw off a lot of cash, we believe dividend stocks is a good heuristic for where to look. However, any investment has its pros and cons. We at Rational Thinking are not dividend investors, we rather prefer to invest based on expected total return, something we believe is the most rational approach to investing. We believe many investors get taken away by their dividend bias and neglect the most important fundamentals.
However, there are many reasons why it makes sense to invest in dividend stocks:
- The most robust and stable businesses pay a dividend.
- Dividend payers have outperformed non-payers for a century.
- You can reinvest the dividend.
- Dividends can serve as a heuristic for finding solid companies.
- The dividend is less volatile than the share price, thus you are likely to make fewer behavioral mistakes.
Most of these arguments have been discussed in several articles about dividend investing.
Where to find the dividend history for Finnish stocks:
Most Finnish public companies publish their dividend track-record on their website. Thus, no graphs are provided in this article. Just use any search engine and you can easily find all the info you look for.
Finnish withholding taxes:
One of the main headwinds for dividend investors is taxes on the dividends. If you are a Nordic investor with a tax-deferred account, you will likely have no withholding taxes. However, the normal withholding tax rate is 30% unless you can claim lower tax treaty benefits (normally 15%).
Dividend frequency in Finland:
The normal frequency is once per year, usually in late 1Q or early 2Q. A few pay twice a year, and a couple pay a quarterly dividend.
Finnish dividend aristocrats:
There are no Finnish companies that have raised their dividend 25 years in a row. It’s pretty normal to let the dividend fluctuate more in line with earnings, which we consider a good thing.
The complete list of the best Finnish dividend stocks:
The article is a work in progress. The article gets updated as we dig deeper into smaller and lesser-known companies.
The list below is not a recommendation to buy the companies mentioned. Please do your own due diligence as many of the companies surely will perform poorly over the next decade(s). This is the nature of the market! You need to dig much deeper before you make any investment.
The companies are ranked by alphabetical order:
Ahlstrom is a result of the merger between Finnish Ahlstrom and Swedish Munksjö in 2017. The main listing is in Helsinki, and a secondary listing exists in Stockholm.
The center of Ahlstrom’s products is renewable fiber. The fiber is used in a wide range of industries and products: filters, wallpaper, sandpaper, nonwoven fabrics, glass fiber, food packaging, tape, medical fiber, etc. It’s a diversified company both in terms of industries and geography.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s dividend policy:
Ahlstrom is one of the few Finnish companies that pays a quarterly dividend. The aim is to keep it steady in the short-term and rising in the long-term. Since 2013 the dividend has been increased from 10 cents to 52 cents (2019).
Altia’s business model:
Altia is a sin-stock: it’s a producer and distributor of alcoholic beverages, mainly spirits and wine. Altia is currently merging with Arcus (Norwegian) and the name will be changed to Anora Group after the merger. The main listing is Helsinki, with only a temporary dual listing in Oslo. The Norwegian investor Stein Erik Hagen becomes the biggest shareholder in the new entity alongside the Finnish state. Mr. Hagen is a long-term owner, not an activist.
In most countries, alcohol stocks have been among the best industries over many decades.
Altia’s dividend policy:
The dividend history is short, and the target is a payout ratio of 60% of the earnings depending on CAPEX requirements. We believe the merged entity will be a reliable dividend payer.
Aspo is an investment company that develops brands (mainly B2B) in Finland, the Nordics, The Baltics, and some other former Soviet countries. Currently, their portfolio consists of only four companies: a dry bulk shipping company, a food company that makes bakery and confectionery products, a company making raw plastic materials, and a software company.
Aspo’s dividend policy:
Aspo changed its dividend policy in 2018 to aim for an annual increase. Moreover, the dividend is paid twice per year. Half of the current portfolio could be labeled as cyclical industries, and thus hit hard in a recession. The dividend has been kept pretty stable since 2007, around 40 cents per year, but with a reduction in 2013 and 2019.
CapMan is a private equity asset manager with its focus on private equity, real estate, and infrastructure. Clients are mainly institutional investors like pension funds, insurance companies, family offices, etc.
CapMan’s dividend policy:
CapMan changed its dividend policy in 2018. Previously, it was set at 75% of earnings, but from 2018 the goal is to pay an annually increasing dividend.
Digia is a software company that offers business consulting, digital services (online and e-commerce services), and data/analytics. The company is a result of many reorganizations, acquisitions, and mergers. Like most companies in the business, the growth has been strong: 10% annual growth in revenue over the last five years. Scale is important in this business, and Digia currently employs around 1 300 people, still reasonably small. Sales are mainly in Finland, but Digia has a small office in Stockholm.
Digia’s dividend policy:
Digia was listed in 1999 and has paid a dividend every year since then, but three years the dividend has been labeled “special” with no ordinary dividend (2011, 2013, and 2014). However, the dividend has been erratic and lowered many times. The aim is to distribute at least 30% of the earnings as dividends. The dividend yield has been around 2% most of the time.
Elisa is a telecom company, previously state-owned and thus still many Finnish government institutions own shares. Currently, it serves about 6 million customers, both businesses and private. It’s the market leader in Finland and the second biggest in Estonia. Services offered are broadband, mobile subscriptions, and cable-TV.
Elisa’s dividend policy:
The telecom market is not a growth market, and thus practically all earnings are handed back to the shareholders, mainly as dividends. Since the GFC in 2008/09, the dividend is doubled. The dividend should be pretty “secure” as the telecom business is somewhat recession-proof.
Enento changed its name from Asiakastieto during 2020, probably due to its more international exposure following the acquisition of the database provider Proff (Norway and Denmark). The main business is consumer information used for risk management, decision-making, and sales/marketing. Customers are both consumers and businesses. The biggest shareholders are financial institutions: SEB, Sampo, Nordea, Handelsbanken, and Swedbank.
Enento’s dividend policy:
The payout ratio should be around 70%. Enento has been an independent company since 2015, and the dividend was lowered by 33% for 2019 due to Covid-19.
eQ is an asset manager and offers services within corporate finance.
eQ’s dividend policy:
The goal is to distribute nearly all of the earnings. The dividend was first initiated in 2004, but it was scrapped in 2008 and not started again until 2011. From 2011 the dividend has been increased from 12 cents to the latest dividend of 62 cents, although lowered in 2016.
Etteplan is an engineering company that provides solutions mainly for the manufacturing industry. Services and products involve plant engineering, software development, and technical solutions. The services are offered mainly in Northern Europe but recently expanded to China.
Etteplan’s dividend policy:
The dividend was initiated in 2007 and has been paid every year since then, although reduced in 2008, 2009, and 2013. The dividend growth since 2007 has been slightly higher than the inflation rate: 4%. To our knowledge, the company has never specified any dividend policy, but this is a capital-light business and you can expect most of the earnings to be distributed back to shareholders.
Evli is an asset manager with about 13 billion euro under management, serving mainly institutional investors. It was founded as long back as 1985 but was not a public company until 2015. The philosophy is bottom-up in corporate bonds, equity, and factor investing.
Evli’s dividend policy:
The aim is to pay out as much as the solvency ratios allow. So far this has resulted in a rising dividend every year at a rate of 20%, however, only for six years.
Fiskars’s business model:
Fiskars make consumer products for the home, the garden, and the outdoors, selling globally. Other brands include Waterford, Wedgewood, Iittala, and Gerber. The products are well-known for their good quality.
Fiskar’s dividend policy:
A dividend has been paid yearly since at least 1995, but the dividend growth has been modest. Over the last decade, the dividend has been reduced, although the aim is to pay a steadily rising dividend.
Fortum’s business model:
Fortum is an energy company with its main focus on the Nordic region, but it additionally has exposure to the Baltics, Russia, and Eastern Europe. It operates power plants and additionally offers waste services. The main shareholder is the Finnish state.
Fortum’s dividend policy:
Fortum is a highly regulated business with the pros and cons involved. One of the advantages is that barriers to entry are high, but there is little growth.
The goal is to pay a stable and over time rising dividend. The dividend was lowered in 2008 and has since then only increased from 1 to 1.1 EUR plus a bonus dividend in 2014.
Huhtamäki’s business model:
The company has been making food packaging for over 100 years. Products include disposable tableware packaging for the food business, but also for pharmaceuticals and hygiene brands.
It’s a stable business that has had consistent growth over the last 15 years: both sales and earnings have grown 6% annually over the last decade.
Huhtamäki’s dividend policy:
The target is a payout ratio of 40-50%. So far Huhtamäki has proved to be a stable dividend payer with an increase every year since 2008.
Kemira is a chemical company, but as with many other Finnish companies, the main ingredients come from the main renewable resource in Finland: its forests. Business segments are pulp & paper, water, oil & gas, and industry.
Kemira’s dividend policy:
Despite having paid a dividend every year since its listing back in 1994, the dividend growth has been slow. The dividend was 48 cents in 2006 and in 2019 it was still only 56 cents, only lowered once, in 2008, during this period. Kemira has no special dividend policy, except for paying a rising dividend over time. However, the earnings growth is low.
Kesko is a Finnish retail trade giant. Its business spans groceries, building, and car trade in the Nordics and the Baltics. Brands include Byggmakker, Onninen, Ksenukai, Intersport, K-Rauta, and K-Supermarket. K-Auto imports Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Porsche to Finland.
Kesko’s dividend policy:
Kesko is one of the few Finnish companies with a really long dividend history spanning many decades. A dividend has been paid every year since 1960 except for 1967! If we look at the recent history of the last two decades, the dividend growth has been modest: around 3-4% (perhaps reflecting a business that grows mostly in line with the inflation rate). The dividend has been reduced a couple of times.
Kojamo is Finland’s biggest real estate company, managing around 35 000 rental apartments across Finland. It was set up in 1969 to fill the gap when people migrated from the countryside to urban centers. It was partly privatized in 1997 and was listed in 2018.
Kojamo’s dividend policy:
Despite its short history as a public company, we believe it will pay solid dividends in the future due to its inflation “hedged” business model. The aim is to pay at least 60% of the FFO as dividends, given the equity ratio is at least 40%. The dividend was 15 cents in 2015 while the latest for 2019 was 34 cents.
Kone’s dividend policy:
Because of Kone’s strong and robust business model, Kone is probably the best dividend payer on the Finnish market. The dividend has been raised or kept steady every year since 2005. However, Kone has not defined a specific dividend or share buy-back target. Any need for CAPEX might put the dividend on hold.
As its name implies, Konecranes was a division of Kone until 1994 when it was spun-off. Konecranes provides lifting equipment and services for a wide range of industries, like shipyards, ports, terminals, trucks, etc. Konecranes and Cargotec (a Finnish listing) are currently in the process of merging.
Konecranes dividend policy:
This is a slow-growing industry, and the dividend reflects that. Since 2011 the dividend has been stable or increased, but only from 1 EUR to 1.2 EUR. To our knowledge, Konecranes has never lowered its dividend. To our knowledge, Konecranes has never formally adopted a dividend policy.
Neles’ business model:
Neles produces valves for the process industry. Valmet is the biggest shareholder with about 30% of the shares (see more of Valmet below). The Swedish giant Alfa-Laval made a bid on the company in 2020, but the offer was declined by Valmet which subsequently bought more shares.
Neles’ dividend policy:
Neles has paid a dividend since at least 2002, and the dividend has tripled since then, an annual growth of about 5.5%. The dividend amount is a bit erratic and has been lowered three times since 2002, although the company is slightly different now than then. The company has not mentioned any specific dividend policy.
Neste’s business model:
Neste is an old company but was spun off from Fortum in 2005 to become independent. The business is production and refining of oil products plus some smaller business segments. Neste is most known for its gas stations.
The Finnish state is the largest shareholder controlling almost 40%. In terms of revenue, Neste is the second biggest company on Nasdaq Helsinki.
Neste’s dividend policy:
Neste aims to pay out 50% of earnings, which it’s also the historical ratio since its listing. The dividend has been raised from 12 cents in 2010 to the latest of 1.02 EUR.
Nokian’s business model:
Nokian Tyres produces tires for cars, trucks, buses, and heavy equipment. The company is most known for its specialization in winter tires.
Nokian’s dividend policy:
Nokian has paid a steady or rising dividend since 2010, but it was reduced by 28% for 2019 due to Covid-19. The aim is to pay at least 50% of the earnings as dividends, but over the last six years, the payout ratio has been between 75 and 100%.
Olvi is a brewery, distiller, and soft drinks company, one of the few smaller breweries left – a classical sin-stock. It has almost 20% market share and is the biggest Finnish-owned company in the sector. The main brewery is in Finland, but the company owns A. LeCoq in Estonia, Cesu in Latvia, Volfas Engelmann in Lithuania, Lidskoe Pivo in Belarus, Servaali in Finland, and Helsinki Distilling Company in Finland. The latter is a spirit company making whisky, gin, and akvavit. We suspect Olvi might be a takeover target. However, the Olvi foundation controls 52% and could be a safety valve against any activists.
Olvi’s dividend policy:
The dividend is paid at least since the year 2000 and has been increased from 11 cents to one euro in 2019, an annual growth of 11%. Even though the dividend growth has been strong, you cn expect the dividend to be lowered once in a while: It has been lowered four times since 2000.
Orion manufactures pharmaceutical ingredients and diagnostic tests (for both humans and animals). It’s a small company with its main sales within Finland.
Orion’s dividend policy:
Orion has not a specific dividend policy, apart from considering the future CAPEX requirements. Since 2007 the dividend has been lowered twice: in 2008 and in 2013. The dividend growth has been modest at 3% annually.
Ponsse manufactures a range of forestry vehicles used on logging sites. Finland has a lot of forests, but over 80% of the sales are exported.
Ponsee’s dividend history:
The dividend has been lowered twice between 2008 and 2019: 2012 and 2019 (reduced from 80 cents to 30 cents). The company has not specified any particular dividend policy.
The forest is the biggest resource in Finland, even a renewable resource, and Raute is one of the many companies serving the sector. Raute provides machinery and equipment for production processes in mills and product lines. The product line involves automation and production technologies. Previously such companies were much more cyclical than they are now. Today, the sector has a tailwind because it’s an ESG industry.
Raute’s dividend policy:
A dividend has been paid since 1999, but it has seen many ups and downs with very little growth from 1999 until the GFC in 2008/09, when the dividend was cut completely (in 2009). From 2010 the dividend has been raised or kept steady every year, except for 2013 when it was halved. The BoD aims for a steady dividend, not necessarily linked to the earnings every year.
Revenio is a healthcare company. It develops screening devices to detect significant glaucoma diseases, skin cancer, asthma, and diabetes. It’s still a very small company with only 55 million EUR in turnover, but growing rapidly. Sales growth has been 23% annually over the last five years. Still being an outsider, this company has some risks involved.
Revenio’s dividend policy:
The company has not published any specific dividend policy, but a dividend has been paid every year since 2007. It’s been raised or kept steady since 2010.
Sampo is a financial conglomerate that owns several insurance subsidiaries: If P&C, Mandatum, Topdanmark, and Hastings (British). If P&C is one of the biggest insurers in the Nordic region. To better understand the Nordic insurance sector, we recommend reading our write-up of their main competitor: Why I’m long Gjensidige – The Norwegian Insurer.
Sampo’s dividend policy:
The insurance business is mature, and you can’t expect much growth. At least 70% of earnings are distributed as dividends, with occasional buybacks. Sampo has paid a dividend every year since 1993, but you can’t expect steady growth. The dividend has been lowered numerous times. In the period 2011 – 2018, the growth was 7% annually until the dividend was lowered from 2.85 to 1.5 EUR in 2019.
Scanfil is a manufacturing company specializing in the electronics industry. This involves product design, procurement, and logistic solutions. Some part of the business has recurring revenues in the form of after-sales services (maintenance and spare parts). Additionally, it offers video surveillance systems and telecom devices.
Scanfil’s dividend policy:
The company became public as late as 2012, initiated a dividend immediately, and raised it every year until it remained steady in 2019. You can expect about one-third of the earnings to be distributed.
Siili is a digital and consulting business with services within strategy consulting, design/user experience, e-commerce, data/analytics, and software automation. It’s a small company with about 100 million euro in sales, but annual growth been consistent at 14%. Finland is 86% of the sales, while the rest is mainly in the EU.
Siili’s dividend policy:
Siili became a public company as late as 2012 and thus their history is short. Still, a dividend has been distributed every year and increased until 2018 when it was lowered. The payout ratio has been around 50-80%, and the aim is 30-70% plus additional bonus dividends. The policy is to distribute most of the earnings.
The pulp, paper, and forest product company is a result of the merger between Swedish Stora and Finnish Enso in 1998. It’s a company that is facing some structural headwind and the share price has gone sideways for over two decades.
Stora Enso’s dividend policy:
Because of the headwinds, the dividend growth has been pretty moderate. The dividend was reduced during the GFC in 2008/09, but since then it has been doubled until it was reduced from 50 cents to 30 cents in 2019. The aim is to distribute 50% of the earnings.
Talenom is an accounting company. The offered services are traditional bookkeeping, payrolls, taxation, legal services, and invoicing. The key component of the growth is franchising, mainly in Finland but recently a franchise was set up in Sweden. It’s a growth company: sales have increased 14% annually since 2013. The company was listed as late as 2015.
Talenom’s dividend policy:
They have yet to declare a specific dividend policy. However, it’s a capital-light business model, and the dividend has increased every year since 2015, from 1 cent to 15 cents for 2019.
In 2019 Tieto and Evry joined forces to become the Nordic IT-giant with sales more or less evenly distributed among Norway, Sweden, and Finland (and little in other countries). Services are typical data/analytics, strategy, cybersecurity, cloud, etc.
TietoEvry’s dividend policy:
Since the GFC Tieto has paid a rising or steady dividend until it was lowered 55% for 2019 due to Covid-19. You can expect most of the earnings to be distributed, and the long-term aim is to pay a steadily rising dividend over time.
Tikkurila’s business is paint and lacquers. It was listed as late as 2010, although the history goes back to the 1860s. (The world’s biggest paint company, PPG, bid for the shares in January 2021. The outcome is yet unknown as of writing.)
Tikkurila’s dividend policy:
The objective is to pay at least 40% of the earnings as dividends. The dividend was raised every year from its listing in 2010, but it was reduced for 2018 before increased again in 2019.
Tokmanni is the largest and only nationwide general discount retailer in Finland with 191 stores, selling a wide range of products from clothes to car accessories.
Tokmanni’s dividend policy:
Tokmanni aims for a distribution rate of 70% of the earnings. The dividend was initiated in 2016.
Everything with UPM evolves around the renewable resources from trees: fibre products, wood products, paper, plywood, etc. This used to be an extremely cyclical business, but less so today than before due to more diverse products.
UPM-Kymmene’s dividend policy:
UPM has paid a dividend every year since at least 1996. The dividend growth has been weak, though: in 2003 the dividend was 75 cents, while it today is 1.3 EUR, although it has never been lowered. The target payout ratio is 30-40% of the free cash flow.
Uponor provided drinking water, radiant heating, and cooling systems for both residential and commercial use. They are mostly known for their plumbing solutions and pumps.
Uponor’s dividend policy:
The payout ratio should be at least 50%. The dividend has been raised or held steady every year since 2011. The company’s business is a bit cyclical, so expect a reduction if we hit a recession.
Their slogan is observations for a better world, which sums up pretty well what the company is all about: industrial and environmental instruments. The share price has lately risen a lot due to its exposure to ESG, although the major customers are national weather stations, aviation authorities, and road authorities. However, the instruments serve a wide range of industries.
Vaisala’s dividend policy:
A dividend has been paid since at least 2008. It was lowered in 2009 because of the GFC, but increased or held steady every year after that. Earnings determine the dividend and a rising dividend is the second priority.
Valmet has been in existence for about 200 years, but it was as late as 2013 it was spun-off from Metso. Its main business is developing and supplying automation systems for a wide range of industries, mainly the pulp, paper, and energy industries.
Valmet’s dividend policy:
Valmet targets a payout ratio of at least 50%. Since its listing in 2013, the dividend has been increased every year. The dividend was introduced as late as 2016 at 51 cents a share, while the dividend for 2019 was 62 cents.
Verkkokauppa is an online retailer. Obviously, with this name and brand, this is only for the local Finnish market. The company has witnessed nice growth in both earnings and sales over the last decade: 11%. It’s Finland’s best-known and most visited webstore. Despite a competitive market, it has managed to outgrow the market.
Verkkokauppa’s dividend policy:
The dividend was introduced in 2013 and has increased yearly since then. It’s one of the few companies that pay a quarterly dividend. The aim is to raise every year.
Despite its difficult name, this is an international company. It has two main business segments: Energy Business and Marine Business. The main business idea is to operate smart solutions to improve efficiency for vessels and power plants.
To gain exposure to Wärtsilä you can purchase shares in the famous Swedish investment company Investor AB, controlled by the famous Wallenberg family. Investor AB has a big stake in the company.
Wärtsilä’s dividend policy:
The company aims to pay at least 50% over a business cycle. The dividend has been raised every year since 2011 except for 2019 when it was held steady. Distributions are twice per year.
Disclosure: We are not financial advisors. Please do your own due diligence and investment research or consult a financial professional. All articles are our opinion – they are not suggestions to buy or sell any securities.
– Why invest in the Nordic stock markets?
The Nordic region is considered a favorable investment destination due to its safety, ease of doing business, and diverse opportunities. Despite misconceptions about being “socialistic,” the region offers stability and potential returns.
– What are Finnish withholding taxes on dividends?
The standard withholding tax rate for dividends in Finland is 30%. Nordic investors with tax-deferred accounts may experience lower or no withholding taxes.
– What is the dividend policy of Finnish companies like Ahlstrom-Munksjö and Altia?
Ahlstrom-Munksjö follows a quarterly dividend policy, aiming for stability in the short term and growth in the long term. Altia targets a payout ratio of 60% of earnings, with a focus on reliability post-merger.