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Dividend Yield

Guide to Understanding Dividend Yield

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Dividend Yield

How to Calculate Dividend Yield?

The dividend yield represents how much a company issues in dividends relative to its latest closing share price – i.e., the percentage of its share price paid out in the form of dividends each fiscal year.

The dividend yield, expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing the annual dividend per share (DPS) by the current market share price.

However, since dividends are paid quarterly, the standard practice is to estimate the annual dividend amount by multiplying the latest quarterly dividend amount per share by four.

As a result, the dividend yield reflects any recent corporate changes regarding the payout policy.

Dividend Yield Formula

The formula for calculating the dividend yield is as follows.

Dividend Yield (%) = Annual Dividend Per Share ÷ Current Share Price

For example, if a company is trading at $10.00 in the market and issues a dividend per share (DPS) of $1.00 per year, the company’s dividend yield is equal to 10%.

  • Dividend Yield (%) = $1.00 ÷ $10.00 = 10%

What is a Good Dividend Yield?

If a company’s dividend yield has been steadily increasing over time, such changes could be interpreted positively if caused by an increasing dividend payout. But if the increase stems from a declining share price, that would be a concerning sign.

Management’s decision to cut the dividend amounts can also cause yields to decline. But considering companies are reluctant to cut dividends once implemented, an announcement that dividends are being cut is almost always perceived negatively by the market.

Hence, there tends to be a drop-off in a company’s share price following news that its dividend is being reduced (or completely cut) – as investors tend to assume the worst.

On the topic of what a “good” dividend yield is, the answer is entirely contextual. Company-specific factors such as its stage in its lifecycle, growth opportunities and shareholder base are all examples of key considerations.

In addition, industry factors must be taken into account, such as the cyclicality in revenue.

An important distinction here is that a high dividend yield does NOT mean that the issuer is financially healthy and profitable (and vice versa). For instance, the high yield could be the result of management deciding to not cut the dividend in fear of a significant decline in share price.

Corporate Dividend Payout Policy Decision

The maturity of the company and the defensibility of its market share (i.e. number of new entrants, the threat of disruption) must be taken into consideration when it comes to peer comparisons.

Mature companies in established markets tend to pay regular dividends with consistent dividend yields.

But companies earlier in their lifecycle experiencing high growth – assuming the company is profitable – tend to reinvest their earnings for further growth instead of issuing dividends.

Generally, the metric is most useful for comparisons to historical yields, as well as to the industry average, rather than for direct comparisons with peers, given the number of variables that can impact the dividend policies between companies.

What is the Difference Between Dividend Yield and Payout Ratio?

Another popular metric for investors is the dividend payout ratio. While the dividend yield is the rate of return of dividends paid to shareholders, the dividend payout ratio is how much of a company’s earnings are paid out as dividends instead of being retained.

Certain investors believe the dividend payout ratio is a better indicator of a company’s ability to distribute dividends consistently in the future. The dividend payout ratio is highly connected to a company’s cash flow.

Since the yield is denoted as a percentage, shareholders can easily assess their expected returns per dollar invested.

Dividend Yield Calculator

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Dividend Yield Calculation Example

Suppose we have two companies – Company A and Company B – each trading at $100.00 with an annual dividend per share (DPS) of $2.00 in Year 1.

From Year 2 to Year 5, Company A’s DPS will increase by $0.50 each year until reaching $4.00 by the end of the forecast.

Across the same time horizon, Company B’s share price will decline by $12.50 each year – falling to $50.00 by the end of Year 5.

We arrive at the dividend yield by dividing the current share price by the dividend per share, as shown below.

Dividend Yield Formula Excel

The yield of both companies increases from 2.0% in Year 1 to 4.0% in Year 5.

However, the cause of each company’s yield increase determines whether the increase should be determined positively or negatively.

Company A is likely to become more profitable and therefore increase the dividend payout to shareholders.

By contrast, Company B’s share price has effectively been cut in half, implying some underlying issues (e.g. missed earnings, negative market sentiment).

Dividend Yield Model

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