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.
We have a number of popular FTSE 100 companies reaching that crucial date next week, and here are three of them that will go ex-dividend on Wednesday, 7 August:
Next Wednesday is final ex-dividend day for BT Group (LSE: BT-A) (NYSE: BT.US), with a payment of 6.5p per share due. Added to the first-half payment, that takes BT’s total annual dividend up 14% to 9.5p per share. With BT shares currently trading at 342p apiece, that represents a yield of 2.8%. It might not sound like a handsome income, but the shares are up 55% over the past year, so shareholders have done pretty well overall.
The dividend was covered 2.8 times by earnings per share (EPS), too, so it doesn’t look like a very risky one. For the year to March 2014, analysts are currently forecasting a dividend of around 10.9p per share for a rise of 15%, and that would be around 2.3 times covered as EPS is expected to fall slightly.
The same day brings us to ex-dividend time for BG Group (LSE: BG) with respect to a first-half payment of 8.51p per share. Production for the six months to June 2013 did fall 2% and EPS dropped 3%, but that was in line with expectations. The dividend represented a rise of 10% over the first half last year, and if we get the same boost for the full year we’ll be looking at a yield of around 1.6% based on today’s 1,185p share price.
That price has fallen over the past 12 months, by around 6%, and with full-year EPS set to fall, BG is on a forward P/E of an average-looking 14.5 for the year to December. But 2014 forecasts suggest a return to rising earnings, bringing the P/E down to 12.
Our third company is Unilever (LSE: ULVR) (NYSE: UL.US), which has been a popular share amongst income investors for years. The producer of a multitude of household goods will pay a second-quarter dividend of 23.12p per share, after reporting underlying sales growth of 5% for the six months to June. The firm saw a 14% rise in operating profit to €3.9bn, with diluted EPS up 14% to 83 eurocents per share. Added to a Q1 payment of 22.91p, that gives us 46.03p per share so far, and there’s a full-year total of approximately 89p currently forecast — on today’s price of 2,670p, that would give a 3.3% yield.
Unilever shares were getting a little toppy by some standards earlier in the year, and the price has fallen a bit over the last few months — it’s currently around 15% up over the past 12 months overall. But even with a bit of fall, Unilever is still on a forward P/E of 19 based on the latest forecasts.
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. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Unilever.