Showing posts with label drips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drips. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Using DRIPs for faster compounding of dividends

Dividends have historically contributed 35% - 40% of annual total returns over the past century. Re-invested dividends however are touted to have provided 97% of S&P 500 total returns between 1871 and 2008.

The main pro of dividend reinvestment is that you get the power of compounding in your favor. If you have also picked a solid stock that tends to increase the payments to stockholders every year you are essentially turbo charging your portfolio for the long run and should expect to receive even faster annual dividend raises.

There is another way to compound your dividends to the third degree using dividends reinvestment plans (DRIPs) which allow participants to reinvest the cash dividends in additional shares of common stock at a discount. Drips are a nice low cost way to purchase dividend stocks and build a stock portfolio. These programs allow investors to purchase shares in two ways either through reinvesting dividends or with optional cash payments that can be sent to the companies you want to invest in. One benefit of drips is that they allow dividend reinvestment in partial shares. Check out my recent review of DRIPs.

The most valuable benefit of drips is that some allow reinvesting your dividends by purchasing shares at a discount to the market price. This is an inexpensive way for these companies to raise capital.

I have provided a sample list of dividend reinvestment plans, which allow participants to reinvest the cash dividends in additional shares of common stock at a discount. It’s not a recommendation to purchase however:

If you are aware of any other drips offering a discount on dividend reinvestment, please add your comment below.

It’s interesting to note that most major companies that offer discount on dividend reinvestment plans are Canadian. Major banks such as Bank of Montreal (BMO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and Royal Bank of Canada (RY) dominate the list. Canadian Income Trusts such as Pengrowth Energy Trust (PGH), Penn West Energy Trust (PWE) and Harvest Energy Trust (HTE) also reward shareholders with reinvesting their dividends by purchasing shares at 5% discount to the market price.
Few US companies are currently offering discounts on dividend reinvestment through their DRIPs. With the credit crunch I would expect companies to provide an additional incentive for shareholders to keep reinvesting their dividends through the company’s plan in order to have an easy way to finance operations.

It is important to understand however that these discount prices could be determined differently in different drips. Thus always consult the plan documentation for further details concerning specific DRIPs. Buying stocks just for the dividend reinvestment discount shouldn’t be the main reason behind the purchase. Always analyze each individual stock before investing in it.

Full Disclosure: Long TD

This post was featured on Spring Has Sprung - Carnival of Personal Finance #199.

Relevant Articles:

- Are Drips Worth It?
- Should you re-invest your dividends?
- The Rule of 72
- Why dividends matter?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Are Drips Worth It?

This article originally appeared on The DIV-Net September 26, 2008.

The abbreviation DRIP stands for dividend reinvestment plans. Drips are a nice low cost way to purchase dividend stocks and build a stock portfolio. These programs allow investors to purchase shares in two ways either through reinvesting dividends or with optional cash payments that can be sent to the companies you want to invest in. One benefit of drips is that they allow dividend reinvestment in partial shares. Another benefit of other drips is that some allow reinvesting your dividends by purchasing shares at a discount to the market price. Two such companies that I am aware of that do this are ACAS and NNN. Below you can also check my analysis of ACAS and NNN.

One of the issues with drips is that in order to participate in the DRIP you must already have purchased one share of the company stock. Some companies have overcome that hurdle for shareholders by letting people make a direct purchase in their stock. Stocks like GE or XOM are good examples of direct purchase plans with reinvestment plans.

Another problem with drips however is that you do not have the execution speed like you do when you purchase shares through a broker. If you want to buy or sell shares at the current market price, you can’t do it. In addition to that, despite the fact most drip plans allow charge low or no fees for purchasing additional shares or reinvesting your dividends, most drips have high initial set-up fees.

Another issue that I have with drips is availability. Not all companies offer drips, so you might have to use a stock broker after all.

From a tax perspective drip Investors must track their cost of shares to be used to calculate capital gains tax when shares are sold. In addition to that very few dividend reinvestment plans allow you to hold stocks in an IRA DRIP, which allows for a tax free compounding of your dividends. Examples of non-taxable dividend reinvestment plans include XOM, which offers both traditional and ROTH IRA dividend reinvestment plans.

From a diversification perspective a drip investor has to enroll in as many plans as the number of individual companies he or she plans to invest in. This would a be very inefficient way to keep track of your investments.

The main positive of drips is the fact that one can start with a small amount of money, typically enough to buy one share of stock. DRIPs also allow novice investors to dollar cost average small amounts of money each month without getting killed on the brokerage commissions. The automatic dividend reinvestment comes in handy as if allows you to simply set up your drip with a company and then its all automatically invested into additional shares, while you take full advantage of the power of compounding.

So what is a good alternative to dividend reinvestment plans?

Most brokers allow you to purchase stock in any company that is traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX and the OTC markets by charging you a small commission for that. After that however most brokerages do not charge any additional fees if you decide to reinvest your dividends. Some brokers like Sharebuilder allow you to reinvest your dividend by purchasing fractional shares, which accelerates the power of compounding in your favor. In addition to that, I would prefer having my entire dividend portfolio concentrated in one or two places as opposed to having it spread out among thirty different reinvestment plans. Most brokers also keep much more detailed information of your transactions activity in one place, compared to drip plans, which definitely helps during tax time.

And last but not least it is much easier to open a retirement account at a stock broker for a small fee, without being limited to the small number of drips inside an IRA out there.

DivGuy and Get Rich Slowly have both published some insightful articles on DRIPs. Check them out.

Relevant Posts:

- Why dividends?
- Why dividends matter?
- My Dividend Growth Plan - Strategy
- When to sell your dividend stocks? Part 2

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