Definition of dividend
- Profits are distributed to shareholders as dividends.
Profits are distributed to shareholders as dividends.
the reward money was an unexpected dividend for our good deed
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Dividends represent a distribution of corporate earnings to company shareholders and usually take place in one of two forms -- cash or stock. Each organization's board of directors determines the actual dividend amount that the firm will pay out. Most cash dividends are paid on a quarterly basis. Meanwhile, stock dividends are generally paid at infrequent intervals.
When researching a company, it is important to recognize when they pay dividends. However, it is easy to be confused by several different dates a company may specify when informing investors of their dividend structure. You should be aware of the following terms:
Dividend Declaration Date: This is the date on which a company's board of directors declares that a dividend will be paid. The board determines the amount of the dividend, as well as when it is to be paid to shareholders on record.
Dividend Record Date: This is the date on which a company reviews its books to determine its "shareholders of record." Shareholders who hold a particular stock on this date will receive the firm's dividend payment.
Ex-dividend Date: After the Record Date has been determined, the stock exchanges or the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) assign the ex-dividend date. The ex-dividend date for stocks is typically two business days prior to the record date. If an investor buys a stock before the ex dividend date, then they will receive the dividend payment. If they purchase the stock on or after the ex-dividend date, then they are not entitled to receive the dividend. On the ex-dividend date, a firm's share price usually declines to reflect the amount of the dividend paid. For example, if a stock is trading at $100 and pays a quarterly dividend of $3 per share, then, all other things being equal, the stock will open on the ex-dividend date at $97.
Many investors rely on dividend payments as a source of income. Say you are retired and hold a significant proportion of your investment portfolio in stocks. Even if share prices of your stocks increase over time, you will be unable to realize these capital gains until you sell your shares. However, if these stocks pay dividends, you will receive a check in the mail (usually four times a year) for your share of the companies' profits.
Dividend payments are very important to the relationship between company and investor. In recent history we saw General Motors cut their long-running dividend in an effort to avoid bankruptcy during the financial crisis that started in 2008. This enraged many former GM employees who lived on dividend payments from the corporation. Additionally, there have been cases of a company's stock price falling amid talks of cutting dividends, showing that a stable dividend payout is integral to a company's financial well-being.
Let's assume Company XYZ issues some preferred stock with a $1-per-share cumulative quarterly dividend. Company XYZ also has some common stock outstanding on which the company paid a $0.50-per-share dividend last quarter.
Now let's assume a recession has taken a toll on Company XYZ's cash flow, and the board has decided to suspend dividend payments. Because the preferred shares have a cumulative dividend, once Company XYZ decides to resume making dividend distributions, it must first "catch up" on any missed dividends payments to the preferred shareholders (those outstanding the longest are paid first). Then it can resume making dividend payments to the holders of its common stock. It must do this even if it does not completely suspend the preferred dividends; reducing them creates a similar obligation.
Preferred shares that have cumulative dividends often have slightly higher rates of return than straight preferred because cumulative preferred carries the added risk of possibly not receiving regularly scheduled dividend payments.
finance : an amount of a company's profits that the company pays to people who own stock in the company
: an advantage or benefit that you get because of something you have done
mathematics : a number that is being divided by another number
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