Laura Foll, of fund manager Janus Henderson, said income from Shell would be the highlight for investors.
“Shell reset its quarterly dividend higher in mid-2021 and said it would grow dividends 4pc annually from this new level. This increase, along with the further dividend growth expected, could indicate that the energy sector will deliver for income investors in 2022,” she said.
There could also be further dividend growth from banks as firms currently hold larger financial reserves than company management targets, Ms Foll added.
“This excess capital might be returned to shareholders via a mixture of dividends and share buybacks in 2022,” she said.
Ian Stokes, of Link Group, said how well a company dealt with inflation would determine how much money it returned to shareholders.
“Price pressures are cropping up everywhere but some companies will be able to pass rising costs on to consumers in full, perhaps with a little extra on top, while others will see their margins squeezed.
“An extended period of rolling staff absence due to sickness will limit capacity too, crimping revenues, while the resulting supply shortages are making inflation worse. Big tax rises will also sap spending power in the economy,” he said.
AJ Bell, the stockbroker, expected Rio Tinto to be the biggest dividend payer, returning £5.8bn shareholders. It said Shell would give back £5.4bn and British American Tobacco £5.2bn.