|Declaration Date||Ex-Dividend Date||Record Date||Payable Date|
On July 27, 2004, Company XYZ declares a dividend payable on September 10, 2004 to its shareholders. XYZ also announces that shareholders of record on the company's books on or before August 10, 2004 are entitled to the dividend. The stock would then go ex-dividend two business days before the record date.
In this example, the record date falls on a Tuesday. Excluding weekends and holidays, the ex-dividend is set two business days before the record date or the opening of the market in this case on the preceding Friday. This means anyone who bought the stock on Friday or after would not get the dividend. At the same time, those who purchase before the ex-dividend date receive the dividend.
With a significant dividend, the price of a stock may move up by the dollar amount of the dividend as the ex-dividend date approaches and then fall by that amount after the ex-dividend date. A stock that has gone ex-dividend is marked with an "x" in newspapers on that day.
Sometimes a company pays a dividend in the form of stock rather than cash. The stock dividend may be additional shares in the company or in a subsidiary being spun off. The procedures for stock dividends may be different from cash dividends. The ex-dividend date is set the first business day after the stock dividend is paid (and is also after the record date).
If you sell your stock before the ex-dividend date, you also are selling away your right to the stock dividend. Your sale includes an obligation to deliver any shares acquired as a result of the dividend to the buyer of your shares, since the seller will receive an I.O.U. or "due bill" from his or her broker for the additional shares. Thus, it is important to remember that the day you can sell your shares without being obligated to deliver the additional shares is not the first business day after the record date, but usually is the first business day after the stock dividend is paid.
If you have questions about specific dividends, you should consult with your financial advisor. You can also get information by going to your library and reading Standard and Poor's Dividend Record Binder.
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