A Primer On Dividends

When interest rates reach historic lows, some investors turn to dividend-yielding stocks when in search of income-generating investments.

When a company makes a profit, that money can be put to two uses:

  1. It can be reinvested in the business.
  2. It can be paid out to the company’s shareholders in the form of a dividend, a taxable disbursement typically made quarterly or monthly.

Dividend Ratios

Investors track dividend-yielding stocks by examining a pair of ratios.

Dividend per share measures how much cash an investor is scheduled to receive for each share of dividend-yielding stock. It is calculated by adding up the total dividends paid out over a year (not including special dividends) and dividing by the number of shares of stock that are outstanding.

Dividend yield measures how much cash an investor is scheduled to receive for each dollar invested in a dividend-yielding stock. It is calculated by dividing the dividends per share by the share price.

Other Dividend Considerations

Investing in dividend-paying stocks can create a stream of taxable income. But the fact that a company is paying dividends is only one factor to consider when choosing a stock investment.

Dividends can be stopped, increased, or decreased at any time. Unlike interest from a corporate bond, which is normally a set amount determined and approved by a company’s board of directors. If a company is experiencing financial difficulties, its board may reduce or eliminate its dividend for a period of time. If a company is outperforming expectations, it may boost its dividend or pay shareholders a special one-time payout.

When considering a dividend-yielding stock, focus first on the company’s cash position. Companies with a strong cash position may be able to pay their scheduled dividend without interruption. Many mature, profitable companies are in a position to offer regular dividends to shareholders as a way to attract investors to the stock.

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Disclaimer: The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for ...

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