Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dividend Yields

One of my investment strategies is to buy dividend-paying stocks. When making investment decisions on dividend-paying stocks, it is important to know what the dividend yield of the stock is. Basically, a dividend yield is the sum of the regular dividends that a company pays over the course of a year, divided by the current stock price. In the United States, most dividend-paying stocks pay out every three months (quarterly). In a previous post, I stated that Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) had a dividend yield of 3.64%. Currently, Pfizer pays 16 cents per share in quarterly dividends, for a total of 64 cents in dividends per year. At the time of my post, Pfizer was trading at 17.56. If you take the annual dividend divided by the price, you get 0.64/17.56 = 0.0364 or 3.64%.

When researching a stock at a financial website such as Yahoo Finance, the dividend and yield is listed with the company quote. I estimate that 95% of the time this number is correct. However, sometimes this number is inaccurate or outdated.

Another case where the dividend yield may be incorrect is when the company pays a one-time special dividend. This will make you believe that the dividend (and thus the yield) is greater than it really is. Unfortunately, it is not always obvious whether a dividend payment is a regular dividend or a special dividend. So be careful when looking only at the dividend yield statistic on financial sites.

While dividend yield is an important criteria used for selecting stocks worth buying, it is not the only criteria. Dividend yield is not the most important criteria either. In future posts, I will cover some of the other criteria that I use for selecting stocks to buy.



  1. If you pick a company from these lists, then you’re probably pretty well guaranteed a dividend.

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