The Power of the Dividend

In a world obsessed with price movements of stocks, it’s easy to lose sight of what those prices represent — the value of holding a company’s future earnings potential. One of the key ways that company earnings find their way into an investor’s pocket is through dividends, which are cash or stock payments that represent a portion of a company’s retained earnings. Retained earnings is found under the shareholder’s equity portion of the balance sheet and represents the amount of earnings a company has left over after paying dividends to its shareholders.Retained earnings is calculated as:

RE = BP + Net Income – Dividends
Where
BP = Retained Earnings at the beginning of the period.

Before further discussion of why dividends can be impactful in the long-term, here’s a plot showing how much of a difference reinvested dividends would make in one’s five year holdings of NYSE:RF compared to holding the dividends as cash and regular price appreciation.

The following plot shows three values over a five-year period:
1) The value of a $100 investment in RF, with only price appreciation.
2) The value of a $100 investment in RF, without re-investment.
3) The value of a $100 investment in RF if dividends were immediately reinvested.
4) The value of a $100 investment in NASDAQ:SPY if dividends were immediately reinvested.

Dividend Mechanics

Dividends will be announced with an ex-date. This is the date by which one must hold a share in order to receive the dividend. Right when trading closes on that day, the market price of each share is expected to drop by the size of the dividend, because anyone now purchasing the stock will not receive the dividend.

However, by the time the market opens the next day, the stock price could rebound up beyond its previous close, or continue to lag after the dividend rights have been rewarded…this uncertainty is simply due to broader market forces that exist on any day of trading.

RF’s Reinvested Dividend Value Compared to That Of Index ETFs

The plot above shows how well RF’s reinvested dividends have fared compared to those for the popular SPY and NASDAQ:QQQ ETFs (which track the components of the S&P 500, and NASDAQ 100, respectively, and pay out dividends for the underlying securities). Note that the bars could not be below zero, as a reinvested dividend represents a fraction of a share of a company, and those shares cannot go below zero. Note, too, that the height of each bar for RF, SPY, and QQQ represents the final difference between the green and red lines on the first graph above.

By looking at the price chart of RF’s common stock one can see that price appreciation alone misses a fair bit of value if one’s considering holding the stock for a long period of time. This is the case for other equities too; check out all Benzinga’s dividend data here (https://www.benzinga.com/calendar/dividends-ex) or in an enhanced view on Benzinga Pro.

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