BHP Billiton plc (LON: BLT), Shire PLC (LON: SHP) and TUI Travel PLC (LON: TT) are all set to go ex-dividend.
If you want to be eligible for company dividends, you must have purchased the shares before the ex-dividend date and held onto them at least until the market opens that day. The price of shares usually falls on ex-dividend day, too, as they no longer carry that extra bit of cash.
That makes ex-dividend day important for two sets of investors -- those who want the dividend and those who look for bargains when shares fall by more than expected. Here are three going ex-dividend next week that you might want to consider:
On 20 February, BHP Billiton (LSE: BLT) (NYSE: BHP.US) released interim results that reflected the tough year the mining sector has had. Revenue fell 14% to $32 billion with earnings per share plunging 58% to 79.6 cents. But that was largely expected, in a year of falling mineral and metal prices. What counts for us is the company's interim dividend, which was raised 4% to 57 cents per share. The shares will go ex-dividend on Wednesday 6 March, and the dividend will be paid on 28 March. The share price currently stands at 2,086p.
Bringing you two miners for the price of one, Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO), a Fool Beginners' Portfolio constituent priced at 3,511p per share, will go ex-dividend on the same day, after lifting its full-year dividend by 18% to 106.77p per share. The final installment, of 60.34p, will be paid on 11 April.
Pharmaceuticals company Shire (LSE: SHP) announced a strong set of 2012 results on 14 February, showing a 10% rise in total revenues to $4.68 billion. Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share came in at $6.10, up 14%. For the second half of the year, Shire will pay a dividend of 9.39p per share, with the ex-dividend date set for 6 March.
The payment, which will be made on 9 April, takes Shire's total dividend to 11.13p per share, for a yield of 0.5% on the current share price of 2,100p.
On 4 December, travel operator TUI Travel (LSE: TT) announced a final dividend of 8.3p per share, lifting the full-year payout by 4% to 11.7p per share. On a share price of 310p, that's a yield of 3.8%. It will not be paid until 9 April, with the ex-dividend date again being next Wednesday, 6 March.
TUI has managed to keep its dividends growing throughout the recession, and there are further rises forecast for this year and next, which should be well covered.
Finally, dividends like these can add nicely to your investment returns -- they can be spent or reinvested according to your needs. Whether investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.