What are dividends and how do they work?

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A dividend is a distribution of the sum of a company’s earnings to a group of its shareholders, as determined by the company’s board of directors. A dividend may be paid out as cash or in the form of additional stock.

The dividend must be approved by the shareholders through voting rights. Even though cash dividends are the most common dividends, they can also be issued as shares of stock or any other property. Along with companies, a lot of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds also pay dividends.

A dividend is a token reward that is paid to the shareholders for their investment in a company’s equity, and it usually originates from the company’s net profits. Even though the major portion of the profit is kept within the company as retained earnings, the remainder can be allocated to the shareholders as a dividend.

Sometimes, the companies may still make dividend payments even when they don’t have the necessary profits. It is done in order to establish a track record of making regular dividend payments.

The board of directors can choose to issue the evidence over different time frames and with different payout rates. The dividends can be paid at a scheduled frequency like monthly, quarterly or annually.


A company may pay dividends to shareholders in different forms. In the same way, depending on the frequency of declaration, there are two broad types of dividend that the shareholders are rewarded with:

  • Preferred dividend

 This type of dividend is issued to the preferred stock owners and usually, accrues a fixed amount that is paid quarterly. Moreover, this kind of dividend is earned on shares that function more like a bond.

  • Special dividend

 This type of dividend is paid on common stock. It is often issued under a particular circumstance or situation when a company has accumulated substantial profits over a period of time. Generally, such profits are looked at as excess cash that does not need to be used at the given moment or in the immediate future.

Dividend stocks

Dividend stocks can be defined as those publicly listed companies that offer regular dividends to the shareholders. Such types of companies are mostly well-established and tend to possess a fair record of allocating earnings to the shareholders.


The steps that are given below highlight how dividends work:

  1. A public-listed company generates substantial income and accumulates a significant part of retained earnings
  2. The company’s management decides if they should re-invest the retained earnings or should distribute the same among shareholders
  3. The board members on getting the majority of shareholders’ approval declared dividends on a company’s share.
  4. Important dates that are related to the dividend declaration are announced
  5. The shareholder’s eligibility to earn dividends is then scrutinized
  6. The dividend is finally paid to the shareholders

The business owners may decide to reinvest the excess or names into the business in order to expand their operations or overall productivity. Therefore, it is essential to note that both retaining and paying for dividends stand to influence the financial model of a business venture.

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