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Dividend Yield (Rate Of Returns / Returns On Investment)

Dividend yield is an important factor in determining the true value of dividend stocks.

This fact holds especially true when investors are seeking to derive dividend income from their investments.

What Is Dividend Yield?

Dividend yield is an easy way to compare the relative attractiveness of various dividend-paying stocks.

It tells an investor the yield he/she can expect by purchasing a stock.

Dividend yield is the relation between a stock’s annual dividend payout and its current stock price.

Depending on how much a stock price moves during the day, the dividend yield is constantly changing as the price of the stock changes.

Most solid companies pay a quarterly dividend that is somewhat predictable to investors. These companies typically pay a regular quarterly dividend around the same times every year.

For a company that has a stock price that is trending upward, it will need to raise its dividend payout in order to maintain its dividend yield.

For example. if a stock goes up by 50%, but does not raise its dividend, its yield will drop significantly (which can be a put-off deterrent for new potential investors and even current investors/shareholders).

How to Calculate Dividend Yield

To calculate dividend yield, use the dividend yield formula. This can be done by dividing the annual dividend by the current stock price:

Annual Dividends / Current Stock Price

For example, if stock XYZ had a share price of $50 and an annualized dividend of $1.00, its yield would be 2%. $1.00 / $50 = .02

When the 0.02 is put into percentage terms, it would make a 2% yield.

If this share price rose to $60, but the dividend payout was not increased, its yield would fall to 1.66%.

Remember: The dividend yield is calculated using the annual yield (every regular payout paid that year). It is not calculated by using quarterly, semi annual or monthly payouts.

Beware: High-yield dividend stocks can be a trap!

An investor desiring to put together a portfolio that generates high dividend income should place great scrutiny on a company’s dividend payment history.

Only those corporations with a historical AND continuous record of steadily increasing and paying dividends over the past 20 years or longer should be considered for inclusion.*

Furthermore, the investor should be convinced the company can continue to generate the cash flow necessary to make the dividend payments.**

If you look at the subprime mortgage mess from 2007-2009, companies were sometimes showing yields in the 10%-20% range, but that was only because the stock price had been hit hard, which resulted in a higher dividend yield. So, be careful when you are excited about jumping into a stock, just because the yield may be high.

When analyzing a high yield dividend stock, it is always important to determine why the stock’s yield is so high. There are two reasons why a stock may have an above average yield.

1. The stock price has taken a hit

When a stock price declines and the dividend payout remains the same, the dividend yield will increase. For example, if stock XYZ was originally $50 with a $1.00 annual dividend, its dividend yield would be 2%.

If that stock’s share price fell to $20 and the $1.00 dividend payout was maintained, its new yield would be 5%. While this 5% dividend yield may be attractive to some dividend investors, this is a value trap.

It is always important for investors to understand why a stock’s yield is abnormally high. A company that has a stock price that has fallen from $50 to $20 is probably struggling and should not be considered a solid investment

(note: sometimes a company is hit by fear-mongering/scandals that hit the stock price but NOT the business - so it's best for you to first understand the business and how it works/stand out in its sector).

2. Is It a REIT or an MLP?

Real Estate Investment Trusts and Master Limited Partnerships are very popular among dividend investors as they tend to offer much higher dividend yields than stocks.

These companies tend to offer high dividends since they are required to distribute at least 90% of earnings to shareholders in the form of dividends.

These companies do not pay regular income tax on a corporate level, instead the tax burden is passed down to the investor (in Singapore, dividends are zero-taxed).

Dividend-Friendly Industries

Investors should also keep dividend-friendly industries in mind. Below are five of the best industries for dividends:

  • REITs
  • MLPs
  • Tobacco
  • Telecommunications
  • Utilities

Key Lessons

  • Dividend yield is an important consideration for investors, since it represents the annualized return a stock pays out in the form of dividends.
  • Investors looking for income from dividend stocks should concentrate on stocks that have at least a 4+% dividend yield, especially in investments that are stable, steady and have been paying stable dividends for at least 3-5 years
  • Investors should also consider the traps mentioned above to avoid unnecessary risk.
  • Most stocks with a dividend yield of 10% or higher are very risky, since a dividend cut is likely in store.

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