What Are Dividend Stocks Schedules?

What Are Dividend Stocks Schedules?

Dividend stocks schedules refer to important dates for shareholders to know. In particular, they will help you understand when you should be on a company’s books in order to receive a dividend.

In this piece, we’ll walk through dividend dates and schedules, how and when stock dividends are paid out, how you find a company’s dividend schedule and how you can plan your own dividend calendar.

Let’s take a deeper look at dividend stock schedules so you know how you can use them to your advantage.

Dividend Dates and Schedule: How it Works

When you purchase a dividend stock or put it on your watchlist, you’ll want to know about four key dates: the declaration date, the ex-dividend date, the record date, and the payment date. Let’s go over each type so you know all the dividend information before you invest:

Declaration Date

When the board of directors of a company announces a dividend payout, it’s known as the declaration date. The board of directors will announce the amount of the dividend and also shares the record date and payment date as well.

Here’s an example: On February 18, 2022, the board of directors of NextEra Energy Partners Inc. (NYSE: NEE) declared a regular quarterly common stock dividend of $0.425. The dividend is payable on March 15, 2022, to shareholders of record on March 1, 2022.

Record Date

The record date (also called the “date of record”) is the date you must be on the company’s books in order to receive a dividend. The company sets the record date, as you can see in the example above with NextEra Energy Inc.

Quick tip: Don’t mistake the record date with the ex-dividend date (it's easy to do!), which we’ll explain in the next section.

Ex-Dividend Date

The ex-dividend date (also called the ex-date) is the trading date that you, as a shareholder, can take advantage of a dividend. You must adhere to the exact date and after in order to take advantage of a dividend. The stock exchange where the company’s stock is traded sets the ex-dividend date, which usually occurs up to three days before the record date. However, the ex-date is usually one business day before the date of record. The ex-dividend date must be earlier than the record date because of the settlement period involved on stock exchanges. If you purchase stock after the ex-dividend date, you will not receive a dividend.

For example, let’s say that a dividend payment date for a particular company will be September 10. Let’s also say that the date of record for shareholders captured on the company's books is June 30. In this case, the ex-dividend date will fall one business day before the record date, on June 29. 

Learn more: Dividend Stocks Ex-Date vs. Date of Record: What’s the Difference?

Payment Date

As you can probably intuit, the payment date is the exact date when the dividend pays out to shareholders, usually by receiving it in the mail or electronically deposited in your account.

In the case of NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE), which declared a regular quarterly common stock dividend of $0.425, shareholders of record will receive the dividend on March 15, 2022.

Most companies issue common stock, which means that voting rights go to shareholders, whereas preferred shareholders have priority over a company's income. In other words, preferred shareholders receive dividends before common shareholders. The company must first pay back any dividends due to preferred shareholders but may not be able to pay both preferred and common dividends. companies could offer preferred dividends and choose not to pay common dividends.

Many companies offer preferred shares that do not carry the same ownership rights as common stock but offer a guaranteed dividend every year.

How and When Are Stock Dividends Paid Out?

Within the dividend stocks schedule, you may also wonder how often dividends are paid out. Beyond knowing about the declaration date, the ex-dividend date, the record date and the payment date, you may wonder about your total return over the course of a year.

Companies usually pay dividends quarterly, though some pay monthly or semiannually. Here’s a quick look at several stocks and ETFs and when you can expect a dividend payout for each:

This list shows a wide variety of stocks and other options, but there are a wide variety of opportunities to achieve your goals with many other opportunities.

How Do I Find a Company’s Dividend Schedule?

Many financial websites like MarketBeat offer ex-dividend calendars, on which you can see the stocks going ex-dividend during any particular week.

As an investor, you can also find out about dividend information and when dividends will pay out for various companies on the Security and Exchange Commission's website, through specialty providers and through the stock exchanges themselves. All qualified shareholders of companies will be notified through a press release as well.

It’s important to note that the dividend schedule might not remain the same throughout the time that you’ve invested with a particular company. Often, companies face financial restraints and may choose to suspend dividend payments to hold money back in reserves.

They may have no profit or remain in a proactive financial planning mode to protect the money that they have. Companies may also decline to offer dividends if one-time expenses come to a head, such in the case of facing a major lawsuit.

How to Plan Your Dividends Based on Schedules and Other Factors

Companies use dividends as a way to reward shareholders for investing in their company stock and to encourage them to continue investing with that particular company. Dividend payouts often come in the form of cash dividends but can also come from a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP), which means that a company issues investors more stock instead of cash. There are other ways that you might receive dividends payouts from companies. It’s a good idea to know how you’ll receive dividends as well as when you’ll get the dividend payout.

Note that some companies don’t offer dividend payouts at all (but they might in the future). Young companies (those still in a growth phase) usually don’t pay dividends because they choose to use their money to reinvest into the company.

So, knowing all of this, how should you build your own dividend portfolio?

Let’s start with a quick estimate: An investment portfolio can garner dividend yields of roughly between 1% to 6% of its value each year. To make $500 per month in dividends within this estimate, you’d need a portfolio of dividends (preferably high-yield dividends) between $100,000 and $600,000.

Therefore, curating a high-achieving list of stocks that pay dividends will be an important goal. You may want to consider the Dividend Kings or Dividend Aristocrats (or compare the two: Dividend Kings vs. Aristocrats). These stocks are likely to continue to pay dividends throughout the future because they’ve paid out dividends over the past 25 years (Aristocrats) and 50 years (Kings). When curating your investments, you’ll want to understand when each stock on your list pays dividends so you can make sure you’re covered on each month of the year. Check the payout schedule for each potential dividend investment on your list.

If you’re not sure about your initial list and before you pull the trigger on buying shares, create a watchlist of a number of companies so you can visualize how much money will come into your bank account.

Bottom Line

Before you dive deep into a dividend stock schedule for any particular company, it’s likely that you’ll need to determine your financial goals and risk tolerance first. In other words, what are your goals for your investment? Do you plan to live off the money in retirement or would you like a nice, tidy investment stream to live off of before you retire? Are you comfortable with an all-stock portfolio or do you prefer some diversification, such as a mix of REITs, ETFs, bonds and stocks?

Ultimately, you’ll need to decide whether monthly/quarterly/annual dividends dovetail nicely within your financial goals and risk tolerance and how it will work in your favor.

If you’re not sure how to set up your portfolio to receive regular dividends (particularly when you’re retirement planning), you may want to work with a financial advisor to help you go over all of your opportunities, from real estate investments in your area to explaining stock splits. You’ll want to choose a fiduciary financial advisor — someone who has your best interests at heart when investing your money.

Find out why slow and steady wins the race with DividendStocks.com.