If you want to be eligible for a dividend payment, or if you're watching for possible share price falls, keeping up with ex-dividend dates can prove beneficial -- as long as you hold the shares up to and including that day, you'll get your money.
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell , the biggest company in the FTSE 100, released first-quarter figures last week and announced a dividend of 45 cents per share, or 29p at today's exchange rate. That's a rise of 5% on the first quarter of 2012, and with Shell's dividends spread evenly over the year, that would suggest a full-year payment of 180 cents, or 116p per share -- which would provide a yield of 5% on the current share price of 2,312p.
In addition to dividends, Shell is returning cash to shareholders via its share buyback programme, and bought up 16 million shares during the quarter for a total of around $500 million.
Wm Morrison Supermarkets announced full-year results on 14 March, and will pay a final dividend of 8.31p per share. That will take the total for the year to 11.8p, up 10% in line with the firms policy of a minimum 10% increase in each of the three years to 2014. The dividend is covered 2.32 times by earnings.
On the year-end share price, that represented a yield of 4.7%, which is historically high by supermarket standards. On the current share price of 295p, a 10% dividend rise to 13p per share for 2014 would provide a yield of 4.4%, as the shares have gained 17.5% since the 31 January year-end.
It's ex-dividend time for G4S next Wednesday, too, after March's full-year results revealed a 5.54p final dividend. Added to an interim payment of of 3.42p per share, that lifted the security firm's total for the year by 5% to 8.96p. The firm also said it plans to continue dividend increases "broadly in line with normalised adjusted earnings".
On the year-end, price, that was a yield of 3.5%. And though the shares powered upward since then, this week's slump, led by disappointing first-quarter results, has taken them back to 261p. That leaves the yield still at around 3.4%, and indicates a possible 3.7% for the year to December 2013.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.