Ex-dividend dates are well worth watching out for, whether or not you own shares in a company. It's important if you want to be eligible for a dividend payment, and as long as you hold the shares up to and including that day, you'll get your money. It can also be a good time if you're looking to buy on possibly overdone share price falls.
On 7 May, HSBC Holdings (HKSE: 0005.HK - news) announced a first-quarter dividend of 10 cents (6.45p) per share. As has been the company's policy since its last annual report, it will pay an equal dividend for each of the first three quarters, with the final dividend being variable. The latest City forecasts are suggesting a full-year payout of around 33p per per share, which would be about 14% up on last year.
With HSBC's share price having risen by around 35% over the past 12 months, to 752p, a 33p annual dividend would amount to a yield of 4.4%, and that's the biggest amongst the FTSE 100 banks.
Intertek Group (Other OTC: IKTSF - news) , the quality and safety services group, has proposed a final dividend of 28p per share, making a total for the year of 41p when added to a first-half payment of 13p. That's a rise of 22% over the previous year, providing a yield of 1.2% on the current share price of 3,457p.
The rise in the annual payout was made possible by a 19% growth in pre-tax profit to £308m, with diluted earnings per share up 25% to 106.7p. And though the actual dividend payment is modest, Intertek shareholders have also benefited from a rise in their share price of nearly 40% over the past 12 months.
Cruise operator Carnival announced a first-quarter dividend of 25 cents (16p) per share on 17 April, after reporting flat earnings for the three months to February -- unchanged from last year's Q1 payment. The firm turned a $141m pre-tax loss for the same quarter the previous year into a £37m profit, which is pretty good progress for such a quiet quarter.
Forecasts for the year to November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) 2013 suggest a total dividend of around 69p per share, which would provide shareholders with a yield of 2.9% on the latest share price of 2,399p. If those expectations hold out, that will be a rise in the full-year dividend of about 8.5% over last year, and for 2014 there's a further 10% or so predicted.
Further company comment can be found at www.fool.co.uk.
> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.