What is Dividend Yield & How to Calculate it | SoFi (2024)

By AJ Smith ·November 22, 2023 · 9 minute read

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What is Dividend Yield & How to Calculate it | SoFi (1)

What Is Dividend Yield?

A stock’s dividend yield is how much the company annually pays out in dividends to shareholders, relative to its stock price. The dividend yield is a ratio (dividend/price) expressed as a percentage, and is distinct from the dividend itself.

Dividend payments are expressed as a dollar amount, and supplement the return a stock produces over the course of a year. For an investor interested in total return, learning how to calculate dividend yield for different companies can help to decide which company may be a better investment.

But bear in mind that a stock’s dividend yield will tend to fluctuate because it’s based on the stock’s price, which rises and falls. That’s why a higher dividend yield may not be a sign of better value.

Keep reading to understand how to calculate dividend yield, and how to use it as a metric in your investment choices.

Key Points

• Dividend yield is the ratio of a stock’s annual dividend payments to its current stock price, expressed as a percentage.

• Dividend yield can help investors compare companies and determine which ones may be better investments for generating income.

• Dividend yield fluctuates based on changes in stock price, so a higher yield doesn’t always indicate better value.

• Calculating dividend yield involves dividing the annual dividend per share by the stock’s current price.

• Other factors to consider when evaluating dividend stocks include dividend growth history, dividend payout ratio, company debt, and overall financial health.

How Does Dividend Yield Differ From Dividends?

• Dividends are a portion of a company’s earnings paid to investors and expressed as a dollar amount. Dividends are typically paid out each quarter (although semi-annual and monthly payouts are common). Not all companies pay dividends.

• Dividend yield refers to a stock’s annual dividend payments divided by the stock’s current price, and expressed as a percentage. Dividend yield is one way of assessing a company’s earning potential.

How to Calculate Dividend Yield

Calculating the dividend yield of an investment is useful for investors who want to compare companies and the dividends they pay. For investors looking for investments to help supplement their cash flow, or even to possibly live off dividend income, a higher dividend yield on a stock would be more attractive than a lower one.

What Is the Dividend Yield Formula?

The dividend yield formula is more of a basic calculation than a formula: Dividend yield is calculated by taking the annual dividend paid per share, and dividing it by the stock’s current price:

Annual dividend / stock price = Dividend yield (%)

What is Dividend Yield & How to Calculate it | SoFi (2)

How to Calculate Annual Dividends

Investors can calculate the annual dividend of a given company by looking at its annual report, or its quarterly report, finding the dividend payout per quarter, and multiplying that number by four. For a stock with fluctuating dividend payments, it may make sense to take the four most recent quarterly dividends to arrive at the trailing annual dividend.

It’s important to consider how often dividends are paid out. If dividends are paid monthly vs. quarterly, you want to add up the last 12 months of dividends.

This is especially important because some companies pay uneven dividends, with the higher payouts toward the end of the year, for example. So you wouldn’t want to simply add up the last few dividend payments without checking to make sure the total represents an accurate annual dividend amount.

Example of Dividend Yield

If Company A’s stock trades at $70 today, and the company’s annual dividend is $2 per share, the dividend yield is 2.85% ($2 / $70 = 0.0285).

Compare that to Company B, which is trading at $40, also with an annual dividend of $2 per share. The dividend yield of Company B would be 5% ($2 / $40 = 0.05).

In theory, the higher yield of Company B may look more appealing. But investors can’t determine a stock’s worth by yield alone.

Dividend Yield: Pros and Cons

Can help with company valuation.Dividend yield can indicate a more established, but slower-growing company.
May indicate how much income investors can expect.Higher yield may mask deeper problems.
Yield doesn’t tell investors the type of dividend (ordinary vs. qualified), which can impact taxes.

For investors, there are some advantages and disadvantages to using dividend yield as a metric that helps inform investment choices.


• From a valuation perspective, dividend yield can be a useful point of comparison. If a company’s dividend yield is substantially different from its industry peers, or from the company’s own typical levels, that can be an indicator of whether the company is trading at the right valuation.

• For many investors, the primary reason to invest in dividend stocks is for income. In that respect, dividend yield can be an important metric. But dividend yield can change as the underlying stock price changes. So when using dividend yield as a way to evaluate income, it’s important to be aware of company fundamentals that provide assurance as to company stability and consistency of the dividend payout.


• Sometimes a higher dividend yield can indicate slower growth. Companies with higher dividends are often larger, more established businesses. But that could also mean that dividend-generous companies are not growing very quickly because they’re not reinvesting their earnings.

Smaller companies with aggressive growth targets are less likely to offer dividends, but rather spend their excess capital on expansion. Thus, investors focused solely on dividend income could miss out on some faster-growing opportunities.

• A high dividend yield could indicate a troubled company. Because of how dividend yield is calculated, the yield is higher as the stock price falls, so it’s important to evaluate whether there has been a downward price trend. Often, when a company is in trouble, one of the first things it is likely to reduce or eliminate is that dividend.

• Investors need to look beyond yield to the type of dividend they might get. And investor might be getting high dividend payouts, but if they’re ordinary dividends vs. qualified dividends they’ll be taxed at a higher rate. Ordinary dividends are taxed as income; qualified dividends are taxed at the lower capital gains rate, which typically ranges from 0% to 20%. If you have tax questions about your investments, be sure to consult with a tax professional.

The Difference Between Dividend Yield and Dividend Rate

As noted earlier, a dividend is a way for a company to distribute some of its earnings among shareholders. Dividends can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or even annually (although quarterly payouts tend to be common in the U.S.). Dividends are expressed as dollar amounts. The dividend rate is the annual amount of the company’s dividend per share.

A company that pays $1 per share, quarterly, has an annual dividend rate of $4 per share.

The difference between this straight-up dollar amount and a company’s dividend yield is that the latter is a ratio. The dividend yield is the company’s annual dividend divided by the current stock price, and expressed as a percentage.

What Is a Good Dividend Yield?

Two companies with the same high yields are not created equally. While dividend yield is an important number for investors to know when determining the annual cash flow they can expect from their investments, there are deeper indicators that investors may want to investigate to see if a dividend-paying stock will continue to pay in the future.

A History of Dividend Growth

When researching dividend stocks, one place to start is by asking if the stock has a history of dividend growth. A regularly increasing dividend is an indication of earnings growth and typically a good indicator of a company’s overall financial health.

The Dividend Aristocracy

There is a group of S&P 500 stocks called Dividend Aristocrats, which have increased the dividends they pay for at least 25 consecutive years. Every year the list changes, as companies raise and lower their dividends.

Currently, there are 65 companies that meet the basic criteria of increasing their dividend for a quarter century straight. They include big names in energy, industrial production, real estate, defense contractors, and more. For investors looking for steady dividends, this list may be a good place to start.

Dividend Payout Ratio (DPR)

Investors can calculate the dividend payout ratio by dividing the total dividends paid in a year by the company’s net income. By looking at this ratio over a period of years, investors can learn to differentiate among the dividend stocks in their portfolios.

A company with a relatively low DPR is paying dividends, while still investing heavily in the growth of its business. If a company’s DPR is rising, that’s a sign the company’s leadership likely sees more value in rewarding shareholders than in expanding. If its DPR is shrinking, it’s a sign that management sees an abundance of new opportunities abounding. In extreme cases, where a company’s DPR is 100% or higher, it’s unlikely that the company will be around for much longer.

Other Indicators of Company Health

Other factors to consider include the company’s debt load, credit rating, and the cash it keeps on hand to manage unexpected shocks. And as with every equity investment, it’s important to look at the company’s competitive position in its sector, the growth prospects of that sector as a whole, and how it fits into an investor’s overall plan. Those factors will ultimately determine the company’s ability to continue paying its dividend.

The Takeaway

Dividend yield is a simple calculation: You divide the annual dividend paid per share by the stock’s current price. Dividend yield is expressed as a percentage, versus the dividend (or dividend rate) which is given as a dollar amount.

A company that pays a $1 per share dividend, has a dividend rate of $4 per year. If the share price is $100/share, the dividend yield is 4% ($4 / $100 = 0.04).

The dividend yield formula can be a valuable tool for investors, and not just ones who are seeking cash flow from their investments. Dividend yield can help assess a company’s valuation relative to its peers, but there are other factors to consider when researching stocks that pay out dividends. A history of dividend growth and a good dividend payout ratio (DPR), as well as the company’s debt load, cash on hand, and credit rating can help form an overall picture of a company’s health and probability of paying out higher dividends in the future.

If you’re ready to invest in dividend-paying stocks, consider opening a brokerage account with SoFi Invest. You can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and IPO shares, — right from your phone or laptop, using SoFi’s secure online platform. SoFi doesn’t charge management fees, and SoFi members have access to complimentary financial advice from professionals. Get started today!

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As a seasoned financial expert deeply immersed in the intricacies of investment and finance, I find the article by AJ Smith on "Dividend Yield" to be a comprehensive and insightful guide for investors seeking to navigate the complex world of financial markets. With a profound understanding of the concepts discussed, I'll break down the key points and elaborate on the nuances presented in the article.

Dividend Yield Defined: The article rightly begins by defining the dividend yield as the ratio of a stock’s annual dividend payments to its current stock price, expressed as a percentage. This crucial metric is essential for investors looking to assess a company's ability to generate income.

Calculation of Dividend Yield: The article adeptly explains the calculation of dividend yield by dividing the annual dividend per share by the stock's current price. This simple formula, highlighted in the article, is a fundamental tool for investors to evaluate and compare different companies for potential investments.

Fluctuations in Dividend Yield: An important point emphasized is the fluctuation of a stock's dividend yield based on changes in its price. It's crucial for investors to recognize that a higher dividend yield doesn't always translate to better value, as it may be influenced by the stock's price movements.

Pros and Cons of Dividend Yield: The article articulates the pros and cons of using dividend yield as a metric for investment decisions. While dividend yield can aid in company valuation and provide income expectations for investors, it may also indicate slower growth or mask underlying problems in a company. The article wisely suggests considering additional factors like dividend growth history, payout ratio, company debt, and overall financial health.

Distinguishing Dividend Yield from Dividends: The article effectively differentiates between dividend yield and dividends. Dividends are explained as a portion of a company's earnings paid to investors, expressed as a dollar amount, while dividend yield is presented as a percentage relative to the stock's current price.

Calculation of Annual Dividends: The article guides investors on calculating annual dividends by examining a company's annual or quarterly reports and multiplying the quarterly dividend by four. This method is crucial for assessing a stock's stability and consistency in dividend payouts.

Example of Dividend Yield: The article provides a practical example, comparing the dividend yield of two hypothetical companies (Company A and Company B) based on their stock prices and annual dividends. This exemplifies how investors can use the dividend yield metric for comparison.

Pros and Cons of Dividend Yield as a Metric: The article lays out the advantages and disadvantages of using dividend yield as a metric. While it can help with company valuation and income expectations, a higher yield may indicate a more established but slower-growing company. Additionally, investors need to be cautious about the type of dividend, as it can impact taxes.

The Difference Between Dividend Yield and Dividend Rate: The article distinguishes between dividend yield and dividend rate, highlighting that the former is a percentage expressed relative to the stock price, while the latter is a straightforward dollar amount indicating the annual dividend per share.

Assessing Dividend Stock Investments: The article delves into deeper indicators of a company's health and potential for future dividend payouts. Factors such as a history of dividend growth, membership in the Dividend Aristocrats list, dividend payout ratio (DPR), debt load, credit rating, and cash reserves are essential considerations for investors.

Conclusion and Call to Action: The article concludes by emphasizing the simplicity of the dividend yield formula but highlights the need for investors to consider a broader spectrum of factors. It encourages investors to explore dividend-paying stocks and suggests SoFi Invest as a platform, providing a seamless experience for trading stocks, ETFs, and IPO shares.

In summary, this article by AJ Smith provides a thorough exploration of dividend yield, catering to both novice and experienced investors. It not only covers the basics of the metric but also delves into nuanced considerations that contribute to a comprehensive understanding of dividend stock investments.

What is Dividend Yield & How to Calculate it | SoFi (2024)


What is Dividend Yield & How to Calculate it | SoFi? ›

• Dividend yield fluctuates based on changes in stock price, so a higher yield doesn't always indicate better value. • Calculating dividend yield involves dividing the annual dividend per share by the stock's current price.

How do you calculate dividend yield? ›

How to Calculate Dividend Yield. To calculate a stock's dividend yield, all you need to do is divide the stock's annual dividend by its current share price. This value gives you the amount of money the stock's dividend pays out on every dollar invested in the stock.

What does 7% dividend yield mean? ›

Dividend yield is a stock's annual dividend payments to shareholders expressed as a percentage of the stock's current price. This number tells you what you can expect in future income from a stock based on the price you could buy it for today, assuming the dividend remains unchanged.

What is considered a good dividend yield? ›

What Is a Good Dividend Yield? Yields from 2% to 6% are generally considered to be a good dividend yield, but there are plenty of factors to consider when deciding if a stock's yield makes it a good investment. Your own investment goals should also play a big role in deciding what a good dividend yield is for you.

How does a dividend yield work? ›

Dividend yield is a ratio, and one of several measures that helps investors understand how much return they are getting on their investment. For companies that pay a dividend, you can calculate dividend yield by dividing the expected income (the dividend) by what you invest (the price per share).

How long do you have to hold a stock to get a dividend? ›

The ex-dividend date is the first day the stock trades without its dividend, thus ex-dividend. If you want to get the dividend payment, you need to own the stock by this day. That means you have to buy before the end of the day before the ex-dividend date to get the next dividend. In other words, it's the cut-off date.

What is the difference between dividend rate and dividend yield? ›

While dividend yield refers to the percentage of the current stock price of a company paid out as dividend over a year, dividend rate is the amount of money that company pays to its shareholders as dividends on per-share basis.

Who has the highest dividend yield? ›

20 high-dividend stocks
CompanyDividend Yield
Altria Group Inc. (MO)9.79%
Washington Trust Bancorp, Inc. (WASH)9.16%
Eagle Bancorp Inc (MD) (EGBN)8.80%
Alexander's Inc. (ALX)8.61%
17 more rows
Apr 17, 2024

Is yield better than dividends? ›

Both metrics are important for equities investors. While the dividend rate indicates total expected income, the dividend yield provides more information on the rate of return and can be useful in comparing different income-paying assets. Apple, Investor Relations.

What stock pays the highest dividend? ›

9 Highest Dividend-Paying Stocks in the S&P 500
StockTrailing annual dividend yield*
AT&T Inc. (T)6.3%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ)6.3%
Healthpeak Properties Inc. (DOC)6.6%
Altria Group Inc. (MO)8.8%
5 more rows
Mar 29, 2024

How to make $1,000 a month with dividends stock? ›

In a market that generates a 2% annual yield, you would need to invest $600,000 up front in order to reliably generate $12,000 per year (or $1,000 per month) in dividend payments.

How to make $5,000 a month in dividends? ›

To generate $5,000 per month in dividends, you would need a portfolio value of approximately $1 million invested in stocks with an average dividend yield of 5%. For example, Johnson & Johnson stock currently yields 2.7% annually. $1 million invested would generate about $27,000 per year or $2,250 per month.

Do you pay taxes on dividends? ›

Dividends can be classified either as ordinary or qualified. Whereas ordinary dividends are taxable as ordinary income, qualified dividends that meet certain requirements are taxed at lower capital gain rates.

What is a dividend yield for dummies? ›

The dividend yield is a financial ratio that tells you the percentage of a company's share price that it pays out in dividends each year. For example, if a company has a $20 share price and pays a dividend of $1 per year, its dividend yield would be 5%.

Can you live off dividend yield? ›

Living off dividends is a financial strategy that appeals to those aiming for a reliable income stream without tapping into their investment principal. This approach has intrigued many investors, from early-career individuals to those nearing retirement.

How often are dividend yields paid out? ›

Dividends are typically issued quarterly but can also be disbursed monthly or annually. Distributions are announced in advance and determined by the company's board of directors. Companies pay dividends for a variety of reasons, most often to show their financial stability and to keep or attract investors.

How do you calculate yearly dividends? ›

To determine its dividend yield, the company uses this equation:Dividend yield = Annual dividends per share / Market value per shareDividend yield = $36 / $150Dividend yield = 0.24This result means LinkTechs has a dividend yield of 0.24, or 24%, meaning its investors earn 24% via dividends from the company's shares.

How do you calculate dividends on a calculator? ›

You can calculate the dividend payout ratio using the following formula:
  1. (annual dividend payments / annual net earnings) * 100 = dividend payout ratio.
  2. (3M / 5M) * 100 = 60%
  3. year-end retained earnings – retained earnings at the start of year = net retained earnings.
  4. $10M – $5M = $5M retained earnings.


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