Forms of payment
Cash dividends (most common) are those paid out in currency, usually via electronic funds transfer or a printed paper check. Such dividends are a form of investment income and are usually taxable to the recipient in the year they are paid. This is the most common method of sharing corporate profits with the shareholders of the company. For each share owned, a declared amount of money is distributed. Thus, if a person owns 100 shares and the cash dividend is USD $0.50 per share, the holder of the stock will be paid USD $50. Stock or scrip dividends are those paid out in the form of additional stock shares of the issuing corporation, or another corporation (such as its subsidiary corporation). They are usually issued in proportion to shares owned (for example, for every 100 shares of stock owned, a 5% stock dividend will yield 5 extra shares). If the payment involves the issue of new shares, it is similar to a stock split in that it increases the total number of shares while lowering the price of each share without changing the market capitalization, or total value, of the shares held. (See also Stock dilution.) Property dividends or dividends in specie (Latin for "in kind") are those paid out in the form of assets from the issuing corporation or another corporation, such as a subsidiary corporation. They are relatively rare and most frequently are securities of other companies owned by the issuer, however they can take other forms, such as products and services. Other dividends can be used in structured finance. Financial assets with a known market value can be distributed as dividends; warrants are sometimes distributed in this way. For large companies with subsidiaries, dividends can take the form of shares in a subsidiary company. A common technique for "spinning off" a company from its parent is to distribute shares in the new company to the old company's shareholders. The new shares can then be traded independently. Reliability of dividends
There are two metrics which are commonly used to gauge the sustainability of a firm's dividend policy. Payout ratio is calculated by dividing the company's dividend by the earnings per share. A payout ratio greater than 1 means the company is paying out more in dividends for the year than it earned. Dividend cover is calculated by dividing the company's cash flow from operations by the dividend. This ratio is apparently popular with analysts of income trustsin Canada. Dividend Dates
Dividends must be "declared" (approved) by a company’s Board of Directors each time they are paid. For public companies, there are four important dates to remember regarding dividends. These are discussed in detail with examples at the Securities and Exchange Commission site  Declaration date is the day the Board of Directors announces its intention to pay a dividend. On this day, a liability is created and the company records that liability on its books; it now owes the money to the stockholders. On the declaration date, the Board will also announce a date of record and a payment date. In-dividend date is the last day, which is one trading day before the ex-dividend date, where the stock is said to be cum dividend ('with [including] dividend'). In other words, existing holders of the stock and anyone who buys it on this day will receive the dividend, whereas any holders selling the stock lose their right to the dividend. After this date the stock becomes ex dividend. Ex-dividend date (typically 2 trading days before the record date for U.S. securities) is the day on which all shares bought and sold no longer come attached with the right to be paid the most recently declared dividend. This is an important date for any company that has many stockholders, including those that trade on exchanges, as it makes reconciliation of who is to be paid the dividend easier. Existing holders of the stock will receive the dividend even if they now sell the stock,...
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