In the wake of the pandemic, many multinational companies like Boeing and the airlines are seeking federal bailouts. They are in no financial position to pay, much less increase, their dividends. But there are other companies doing just fine that could afford to raise their dividends.

For these business entities, there is an overarching, non-financial reason why they won't, according to Loomis Sayles vice chairman Dan Fuss. Simply put, the optics of doing so would be very poor what with thousands of fellow citizens dying and millions of people losing their jobs.

"It will be the rare situation where the dividend is increased because of the P.R. perspective," Fuss, who once ran Yale University's endowment, maintains. He adds that any company that lays off employees probably won't be increasing their dividend.

It would be inappropriate for a bank or utility to raise their dividend in the near term, he believes. Both of those industries are heavily regulated as well. So are the telecom companies.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Pepsico likely are enjoying sales bumps in some business lines like health care products and snacks. J&J  did raise its dividend.

But now isn't the time to crow about positive financial results. Anyone who lived through the 1970s remembers the backlash the oil companies were hit with after they boastfully announced huge jumps in sales and profits while Americans were waiting hours on gas lines.

Many big banks should be doing quite well in some of their business lines, Fuss explains. The market for new bond issues is booming and spreads in everything from Treasurys to junk bonds have widened to the point where traders can earn handsome profits.

But Fuss readily acknowledges that banks could easily realize losses on their loan portfolios. Much of that hinges on how long the pandemic continues and how quickly the nation gets back to work. Given that those questions remain unknown unknowns, they are prudent reasons besides optics to conserve capital.

Look at an industry like pharmaceuticals. For the past five years these companies have been trashed by politicians of all stripes ranging from President Trump to socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.

Suddenly, they find themselves in a position where they could be the heroes if they can come up vaccines, anti-viral cures and cheap, easy tests. The industry is well aware it enjoys a unique opportunity to alter its image for the better.

Regulators clearly are in the driver's seat. European banks, many of which are under-capitalized compared to their American counterparts, have been advised by the ECB to eliminate dividends, Fuss notes.

For retirees around the world accustomed to living off dividend income, this new development is painful. For example, HSBC shareholders in Hong Kong are contemplating legal action against the bank after it suspended its dividend last week.

Despite poor expectations for higher dividend payouts in the near future, Fuss believes some dividend-paying equities are attractive. As in the years following the financial crisis, it's not hard to find companies with dividends generating higher yield than their bonds. At some point, presumably when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, they will be able to resume increasing their dividends.