That's the amount of cash this one sector in the S&P 500 paid stockholders in 2007.
Put another way, this industry accounted for nearly one-third of all dividends in the entire S&P 500.
However, the financial crash took its toll on this industry -- all but eliminating these hefty shareholder payouts in recent years. As a result, investors went elsewhere for income.
But now the tides have turned. These companies have mounted an amazing comeback and recently reclaimed their spot as the market's top dividend-payers.
In the next 12 months, this group is slated to distribute $56.5 billion in payments. That's a full $1 billion more than the runner-up: technology.
I'm talking about the financial sector.
You see, these companies are not free to raise their dividends whenever they like. New regulations implemented after the financial crisis force them to seek permission from the Federal Reserve.
Well, permission granted.
Having successfully completed the gauntlet of tests, the nation's biggest banks were given the green light to share their growing wealth with investors.
Goldman Sachs' (NYSE: GS) quarterly dividends are climbing from $0.60 to $0.65 a share. Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) approved a 50% increase to $0.15 a share. The sharpest increase belongs to Citigroup (NYSE: C), which is now quintupling its dividend.
Adding up the aggregate value of these increases, there will be $3.1 billion headed to stockholders over the next year. That's $258 million per month -- not in total dividends, but in dividend hikes.
But, if you're familiar with my premium advisory, Total Yield, then you know that dividend payments are not the whole story. These firms have more cash to spare, and they've announced plans to use it.
Financials Planning Big Buybacks
In total, the financial sector is set to spend $49 billion over the next five quarters on share buybacks. Combined with the $56 billion in anticipated dividends, that means a jaw-dropping $105 billion is on its way to investors.
For perspective, that's equal to one-fifth of the total combined market value of every stock trading on Mexico's stock exchange.
And remember, when the number of shares is decreased by tens of millions and earnings grow by tens of billions, the value of those shares can go nowhere but up.
Lately, I've been watching a bank that didn't just pass the Fed's tests -- it aced them.
A Financial Giant Watching Over $28 Trillion
It's pretty easy for a business to generate tidy profits when the economy is humming like a well-oiled machine. The true test is how it performs when times get tough.
According to results, the nation's biggest banks would sustain $490 billion in total losses over a nine quarter period. Morgan Stanley, for example, shows a potential loss of $19 billion. Goldman Sachs stands to lose $24.2 billion. The most vulnerable, JP Morgan, would lose about $54.9 billion.
How much would our A-plus bank lose during this hypothetical crash?
This bank would be expected to generate a net profit of $3.3 billion.
And if it can do that during a storm, just imagine the earnings potential when skies are sunny.
What makes this bank so different? Well, for starters, the company doesn't have to worry about consumer and commercial loans going sour. It's not really in the business of lending money.
It's part of a group of banks I've heard best described as the "plumbing" of the financial system.
Unlike traditional banks, it earns steady fee-based revenues -- hence the stability during down-cycles.
It's also one of the big boys -- with $28.2 trillion in assets under custody and administration -- more than the GDP of the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom combined.
With all the necessary servicing infrastructure in place, the cost associated with new revenue growth is minimal. And with no inventory to maintain and no equipment to buy, the bank is able to return a huge amount of capital to stockholders.
And there's much more on the way in 2015. Shortly after receiving regulators' blessings, the bank announced plans to increase its quarterly dividends by 13%. Management also received approval to repurchase up to $1.8 billion.
In total, it has nearly $2.4 billion headed to investors over the next 12 months.
Thanks to continued buybacks, there are now 70 million fewer shares with a claim on those payouts -- making each of those shares more valuable than ever.
Now, in fairness to my paid subscribers, I can't share the name of this bank with you here. They pay good money every year to receive the powerful results of the Total Yield system.
But here's what I can tell you. This bank -- and the financial sector in general -- is booming. And it has plenty of room to grow before hitting its previous highs.
So if you want to get the name of this bank as well as the high "total-yielders" I recommend each month, I urge you to take a look my latest report on the Total Yield system. If you decide it's right for you, then you could soon be on your way to reaping "hidden" yields of up to 25% while doubling the S&P's annual returns.
If you'd like to check out the report, you can read it here.