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Dividends for Beginners: What Are Dividends and How Do Dividends Work?

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What exactly is a dividend?

What exactly are dividends? In a nutshell, these are payments made to shareholders by limited companies. This payment can take the form of cash or another incentive, such as additional shares. The fundamental premise of dividend payments, however, is that they are regular rewards distributed to those who own stock in the company.

That’s a fairly brief definition of dividends, but it sets the tone for the rest of this guide. There are many more puzzle pieces to fit together to provide a complete dividend meaning. For example, in addition to knowing what these payments are, you must also understand when they occur and how they are accounted for. Indeed, if you’re interested in dividend investing, you should learn everything you can about it.

Before you begin investing, you must consider everything from dividend tax and yields to allowances and regulations. All of this and more will be explained in this guide. You’ll be able to answer basic questions like “what is a dividend?” and “how do dividends work” by the end. You’ll also be able to deal with more complex problems. So, if you’re ready to learn more about dividends, let’s get started.

Dividends: How Do They Work?

A company’s board of directors must agree on a dividend payout. However, the amount voted on is not some ethereal figure. The amount distributed to shareholders is determined by the company’s earnings. The payment is specifically based on the company’s net profits.

A portion of the profits will be kept as retained earnings by the company. This is money set aside to cover expenses, make investments, and grow the business. Any remaining profit, i.e. an amount determined by the board to be reasonable, will be distributed as dividend payments. The total amount to be paid out will then be distributed evenly among the number of shares issued.

For example, if the company intends to pay out £10,000 in dividends and has issued 10,000 shares, each share receives £1. As a result, if Person A owns 100 shares, they will receive a £100 dividend. Person B will receive £500 if they own 500 shares. This is how a typical cash dividend payment works.

These payments may occur once a year, four times a year, or on a different timetable depending on the company. That is a matter for the board of directors, but a dividend schedule will be published so investors know when they might receive something. (It should be noted that quarterly payments are the most common).

Companies do not always distribute profits to shareholders in cash. There are several types of special dividends that do not require cash:

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Dividends on Stocks

When a company issues new shares to existing shareholders, this is referred to as dividend stock. These shares are not available for purchase. In other words, they cannot be purchased. They are only available to existing shareholders. Stock dividends cannot exceed 25% of the current share count. A stock split occurs when more than 25% of the total value of shares is issued as new stock.

Dividends of Preference

Preferred dividends are payments made to preferred stockholders. A company can issue two kinds of stock: common stock and preferred stock. These people typically have limited or no voting rights. Preferred stockholders, on the other hand, have a stronger claim to dividends and assets than common stockholders.

In fact, preferred dividends take precedence if a company is unable to pay all of its dividends. Furthermore, dividends paid to preferred stockholders are typically higher than those paid to common stockholders. A company’s preferred dividend stocks must be declared ahead of time.

Programs for Reinvesting Dividends

Dividend reinvestment programmes, also known as dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs), enable shareholders to obtain additional stock. Instead of receiving their dividends in cash, shareholders can use them to purchase more stock. This stock is drawn directly from the company’s reserve, which means it is not for general sale. As a result, commission fees are frequently waived. Furthermore, it allows existing shareholders to increase their stake in a company when they would otherwise be unable to do so.

Dividend Yield Is Important

Understanding how dividend payouts work and what phrases like “Tesco special dividend payments” mean is critical. But, as an investor, what does all of this mean? How can you use this information to make better trading decisions on eToro? This is where the dividend yield concept comes into play.

What exactly is a dividend yield?

This is the amount a company pays out in relation to the value of its stock. Mature companies, on average, pay higher yields than start-ups. And, when it comes to dividend yields, sectors that focus on utilities or consumer services frequently outperform. Coca-Cola, for example, has paid out substantial dividends for more than 50 years. As a result, when looking for options to trade, it’s critical to consider yield.

So, what is a company’s share price and how much money does it make each year? If profits are high, the stock price is high, and dividends are high, it’s a good yield and potentially a good investment. However, if the stock price is high but the dividends are low, the company may not be a good investment. Of course, this is a simplified example, but it illustrates the type of thought process required when investing in dividend stocks.

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How to Find Dividend Stocks

If you know what a dividend is and how dividends work, you’re well on your way to getting more out of your investments. Indeed, if you can find companies with high yields, dividend investing becomes much more appealing. So the question is, how do you find dividend stocks?

There are several methods for determining whether a company pays dividends. Our new dividend calendar tells you everything you need to know about which companies are about to pay dividends. The stocks and dividends are classified according to market capitalisation, but you can also search for specific companies.

The information pages on eToro will also provide you with an overview of major corporations and their remuneration policies. For example, if you search for Aviva on eToro, you’ll find general information about the company, its share price, and dividend information.

Another way to locate dividend stocks is to visit the company’s financial pages or the stock exchanges where they are traded. If a company is listed on the London Stock Exchange, for example, you can find information about its dividend payment schedule as well as historical data on past payments.

Choosing the Best Dividend Stocks

That’s how to find dividend stocks, but how do you tell the difference between the good and the bad? This is far from an exact science and necessitates some personal research and opinion. However, established companies that have been publicly traded for a long time are more likely to pay out large dividends. Investing in established dividend stocks has the added benefit of a relatively stable share price.

Consider the case of Apple. This company is well-established, and its share price has trended in a bullish direction for many years, barring short-term fluctuations. This means it’s a fairly stable stock to trade, and the dividends are likely to be fairly consistent as a result. Indeed, as we now understand, a dividend payment is determined by a company’s net profit. There is no dividend if a company does not make a profit. As a result, if you can invest in a major company like Apple, you are more likely to receive dividends than if you invest in a new company.

Dividend yields can also be used to determine whether there is a strong correlation between earnings, share price, and return. Furthermore, you can examine a company’s dividend growth over time. The best method is to take a five-year average. So, look at the average dividend yield over the last five years. Compare it to the previous five years to see if it has risen. This can also be done on an annual basis. Averages, on the other hand, provide a more comprehensive picture of how a company is evolving.

Top Dividend Paying Stocks

These are some of the methods for locating potentially profitable dividend stocks. Again, picking the best dividend stocks isn’t an exact science. The goalposts are constantly shifting, and you must conduct research to stay on top of the game. However, if you look at well-known companies and evaluate their yields, you’ll get a good idea of where to put your money.

Having said that, here are some well-known dividend stocks that you can trade on eToro:

  • BP Dividend = As of 2021, BP’s dividend yield was 6.98%.
  • Aviva Dividend = As of 2021, Aviva’s dividend yield was 5.40%.
  • Vodafone Dividend = As of 2021, the dividend yield for Vodafone was 6.49%.
  • Apple Dividend = As of 2021, Apple’s dividend yield was 0.60%.
  • Lloyds Banking Dividend = As of 2021, the dividend yield for Lloyds was 1.27%.
  • Royal Dutch Shell Dividend = As of 2021, the Shell dividend yield was 4.82%.
  • Barclays Dividend = As of 2021, the dividend yield for Barclays was 0.57%.

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How to Assess Dividends

Let’s go a little further into the process of locating the best dividends. We’ve already mentioned that dividend yield is important, but you can go even further. It is possible to perform calculations on dividend-paying stocks. If you don’t want to do the math by hand, you can use a dividend calculator in the UK. However, it is not difficult to calculate the dividend payout ratio using the following formula:

Dividend Yield = Annual dividend per share / the current share price X 100

  • Assume a company has a share price of £100 and pays a dividend of £15 per share. This translates to a 15% dividend yield (15/100 = 0.15 X 100 = 15).
  • The yield would be 4% if the company had the same share price but declared a dividend of £4 per share (4/100 = 0.04 X 100 = 4).
  • Alternatively, if the stock price is £80 and the dividend is £4 per share, the yield is 5% (4/80 = 0.05 X 100 = 5).

This straightforward formula can provide you with the FTSE 100 dividend yield for all of the major companies listed. Based on the current value and the value over time, you can then begin to determine which UK dividend stocks offer the best potential yield.

What exactly is the Dividend Tax?

Dividend tax is something you should consider if you are a UK investor. This section goes over the rules for UK dividend tax rates. Switch to our other language guides for information on dividend taxation in countries other than the United Kingdom. We’ll go over the fundamentals of dividend taxation in the United Kingdom.

Do You Pay Dividend Taxes?

  • Dividends are taxable in the United Kingdom.
  • Everyone is entitled to a tax-free dividend allowance. For 2020/2021, the dividend allowance was £2,000 per year. This means you don’t have to pay tax on the first £2,000 of dividend income.
  • Anything over and above the dividend allowance is taxable. The good news is that the dividend tax rate in the UK is lower than the tax rate on other earnings.
  • Furthermore, if you invest through a stocks and shares ISA, you may be able to reduce your tax liability.

Dividends are they taxable?

Dividends are taxable in the United Kingdom. The dividend tax rate changes each year, but it is always based on your income tax bracket:

Income Tax BandTax on Dividend Income
Basic Rate Taxpayer7.5%
Higher Rate Taxpayer32.5%
Additional Rate Taxpayer38.1%
You can work out what you might own by using a dividend tax calculator UK. For more information about your dividend tax rate, you can visit the government’s official website.

Dividend Investing Risks

Finally, keep in mind that no investment is ever guaranteed. Dividend risk exists, even in companies that have been consistently strong performers for many years. For example, if a company begins to lose money unexpectedly, it may have an impact on dividend payments. In fact, if profits fall significantly, dividend payments may be discontinued.

Foreign exchange fluctuations, as well as a drop in a company’s share price, can have an impact on dividend payments. When you consider factors like inflation, you can see that no dividend stock is ever guaranteed to provide a return. Furthermore, the returns you receive can and frequently will fluctuate year after year.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Dividends


Why do businesses pay dividends?

Why do businesses pay dividends?
Companies pay dividends to give something back to their shareholders. People who invest money in a company to help it grow are rewarded when it profits.


What does the term “ex-dividend” mean?

What does the term “ex-dividend” mean?
An ex-dividend stock is one that has lost the value of the next dividend. Typically, the ex-dividend date is one business day before the record date. Anyone who purchases ex-dividend stock will not be eligible for dividend payments.


When are dividends paid?

When are dividends paid?
Dividend payment dates are usually four times a year. In other words, dividends are paid out every three months. Certain payments, however, may be delayed or discontinued. Furthermore, some companies may establish their own dividend payment schedule.

What constitutes a good dividend yield?

It’s difficult to define a good dividend payout ratio because it depends on the market and current trading conditions. However, anything between 2% and 6% is considered a strong dividend yield.

Do dividends qualify as income?

They do, indeed. Dividend earnings will be taxed once they exceed the allowance threshold, which in the UK is £2,000 as of 2021.

How are dividends distributed to investors?

Dividends are typically distributed in cash. You may, however, receive additional stock options or other types of compensation.

Dividends for Beginners: A Summary

That’s all there is to it when it comes to dividends. You should be able to not only answer the question “what is a dividend?” but also delve much deeper into the subject. The following are the most important points to remember:

  • Dividends are payments made to investors from a company’s profits.
  • Dividends are typically paid in cash, but they can also be paid in other ways.
  • To find the best dividend stocks, consider the yield.
  • If you live in the UK and earn more than £2,000 per year, you must pay dividend tax.
  • Dividend stocks are not without risk.

If you keep all of this in mind and make the right decisions, there are plenty of opportunities on eToro to trade the best dividend stocks in the UK.

Your capital is at risk. Other fees apply.

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Defensive Trading

Defensive Trading

Defensive Trading has been established by traders and investors with experience in Forex, Cryptoassets, Stocks and Options. They are the epitome of Defensive Traders and prefers quality trades over a quantity.

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  1. […] What exactly are dividends? In a nutshell, these are payments made to shareholders by limited companies. This payment can take the form of cash or another incentive, such as additional shares. To read more about this check our related post Dividends for Beginners: What Are Dividends and How Do Dividends Work? […]

  2. […] prefer less risk would gravitate towards companies with limited upside but reduced downside risk. Dividend-paying equities from long-standing, established corporations (blue chip stocks) are one example. On the […]

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