Bill Williams is the creator of some of the most popular market indicators: Awesome Oscillator, Fractals, Alligator, and Gator.
How to get stock dividends
2021-06-04 • Updated
Information is not investment advice
What dividends are
Owning a stock of a public company means being one of its shareholders. As such, you’re entitled to a part of the company profit proportionate to your ownership as you’d be in any other case where you have a share of a business. That’s what makes stocks potentially more attractive against other asset types: you can have additional income by earning dividends on top of the usual value gains and closing trades with profit.
How it works
When you trade any asset, you buy at a price and sell at a higher level. The difference is profit. It’s exactly the same with stocks, and profit, in this case, would be called a value gain – because profit has been made on the higher value the stock came to have. That’s what makes trading stocks similar to other assets.
Stock dividend income
In the meantime, while you’re holding a stock, you’re entitled to get the profit its company made during the last quarter. If you have the stock at hand on the day of the dividend payout date – you’ll get it. So, it’s additional income on top of the abovementioned value gain/profitable trade opportunity. That’s the advantage of trading stocks against, say, currencies.
How to get dividends
Not all stocks pay dividends. You have to know which ones do - a Dividend Calendar shows them.
As a rule, dividends are quarterly payments. That means you receive your share of the company profit every three months.
How to know what day the dividend is paid? Once again, the Economic Calendar – Dividend section will help you.
How much exactly
Every company decides that according to their dividend payout policy. Generally, if 30-40% of the company’s net income is distributed among shareholders, it’s considered a standard payout ratio (a percentage, which the total dividends for distribution take in the total company net profit).
There is a time lag between the date of dividend announcement and the date of the dividend payout. After the dividend amount is announced, the market reacts to it the same way it reacts to anything else: if the actual figure is higher than the expectations, the stock value rises; if it fails to meet the forecasts, the value drops. This relation allows specific stock-trading strategies.
Common stock dividend trading strategy: buy and hold
A simple position-trading approach. Buy a stock with healthy growth prospects and keep it for months and years. You will potentially see it rise in value, and while you’re holding it, dividends will be coming to your account every three months. It is recommended to buy the stock at local drops to ensure maximum value gain possible whenever you choose to sell it.
Buy-the-gap stock dividend trading strategy
As this strategy implies being date-specific, here you go with some terms.
Dividend announcement date
That’s when a company announces the amount of the coming dividend – upon receiving this information, the stock may rise or lose value depending on whether the market is satisfied or unamused with the announced dividend. Usually, during the announcement, the record date is set.
Essentially, it’s a “cut-off” day: if you’ve been the last one to hold the stock when this day comes, you’ll receive the due dividend. If you get the stock after the record date, you’re not entitled to the coming dividend payout. Rather, you’re in for the next one. Now, in order for the last owner of the stock to get the dividend due on the record date, the dividend amount is deducted from the stock value one working day before the record day – that’s the ex-dividend date.
Therefore, one business day before the record date, the stock will see its value reduced by the dividend amount – that’s a dividend gap, and that’s when you may consider buying a stock at a lower value.
May 6 saw the Pfizer stock open at a sudden drop to the support of $38.40 that made the price bounce upwards at the end of April. As the due dividend was cut off the stock value on May 6, the stock got down from the new high of $41 to the support of $38.40 – that was a dividend gap. Prudent traders were there to pick it up and eventually see it gain value at $40.40. That’s how you trade the dividend gap.
One last thing about stocks
From the S&P 500 list, there are companies that have been consistently paying and increasing their base dividend on a yearly basis. That means, over years and decades, their shareholders have been enjoying higher dividend incomes apart from mostly increasing stock value. Here are some of them to trade with FBS: Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, and Walmart.
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