There are three cycle for the companies that pay quarterly. They are:
Cycle 1: January, April, July, October
Cycle 2: February, May, August, November
Cycle 3: March, June, September, December
Some companies pay monthly, especially the old income trust companies, but there are fewer and fewer of these. A few pay semi-annually. Some companies are consistent in what months their dividends are paid, some are not. Most annual reports show what dividends have been declared in a year, not what dividends they have actually paid. (What a company declares in a year and what they pay in a year may or may not be the same.)
As a shareholder you want to know what you actually get paid and when. It can get confusing.
For dividends, you have a declaration date, ex-dividend date, dividend record date and dividend payment date. The declaration date is the date a company declares it will pay a dividend. The ex-dividend date is 2 business days before the dividend record date. (Most charts that give dividend information use the ex-dividend date.) The dividend record date is date that if you are the shareholder of record you will get the dividend. The dividend payment date is the actual day the dividend is paid.
In the following notice, August 3, 2011 is the Declaration date. The ex-dividend date is August 25, 2011. The dividend Record date is September 15, 2011 and the date the dividend is paid is August 29, 2011. This puts the dividend payment into cycle 3.
The notice: “TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 3, 2011) - Russel Metals Inc. (TSX-RUS) announced today that it has declared a dividend in the amount of Cdn$0.30 per share on its common shares, an increase of 9% over the prior rate. The dividend is payable on September 15, 2011 to shareholders of record at the close of business on August 29, 2011”.
When you are buying or selling a stock, it is the ex-dividend date that you should look at. This is the date used in determining who gets the dividend.
The thing is, some companies pick a cycle and stay with it. Others do not. A company may pay some dividends in cycle 1 and some in cycle 2. Some may pay in Cycles 2 or 3. Some may pay in cycle 3 or 1. If a company pays dividends sometimes in Cycle 3 and sometimes in cycle 1, you can get a situation where one year has 3 dividends and the next year has 5 dividends. However, you do get all your dividends in the end.
As I said about, the annual reports do not help in this as they using show dividends that were "declared" in a year. That does not mean that they were actually paid. They could or could not have been.
You can get an idea of this from Yahoo finance. As with most sites, they give the ex-dividend date. Since the ex-dividend date is 2 business days before the dividend record date, there will be some variation. However, if the ex-dividend date varies by more than 2 days, it could be an indicator that a stock does not stick to a cycle.
If you look at Wal-Mart’s ex-dividend dates they are all over the place. This would suggest that dividend payments are not consistent. Commenter said Wal-Mart pays in January, April, June, and September. Not exactly every 3 months but still 4 times each year.
The Canadian Stock Metro (TSX-MRU.A) has an interesting payment schedule which seems to be March, June, September and November. Also, Richelieu Hardware (TSX-RCH) has a different schedule of February, April, August and late October or early November. Sun Life (TSX-SLF) declares dividends and had 3 payments in 2005 of March 31, June 30 and September 30 and 5 in 2009 of Jan 2, March 1 June 30, Sept 30, and December 31.
Other stocks like TransCanada (TSX-TRP) are consistent. Their dividends are paid at the end of January, April, July and October. Enbridge (TSX-ENB) is the same; they pay a dividend on the 1st of March, June, September, December each year.
Table of stocks I follow and their Dividend Payment Cycles is partly shown below. You have to click here to get full of table. You can use your mouse to high light a line (i.e. the stock, symbol and corresponding DP).
|Ag Growth International||AFN||M|
|AGF Management Ltd, Class B||AGF.B||1|
|Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp||AQN||1|
|Alimentation Couche Tard||ATD.B||3|
|Alliance Grain Traders Inc||AGT||1|
|Click here to get rest of table.|
This blog is meant for educational purposes only, and is not to provide investment advice. Before making any investment decision, you should always do your own research or consult an investment professional. See my website for stocks followed and investment notes. Follow me on twitter.