A:

An income distribution from a mutual fund to its shareholders can take two forms:

  1. A shareholder can elect to be paid directly, which puts the money in his or her pocket
  2. The shareholder can elect to buy more shares of the fund, which means that he or she is reinvesting the amount of the dividend in more shares.

Whichever scenario mutual fund shareholders choose, they either benefit from $100 paid to them in cash or $100 reinvested in additional shares of the ABC Fund. If you are living off investment income, you will choose one of the dividend payout alternatives. If you are building a retirement nest egg, you will choose to plow that dividend back into more shares of the fund and enjoy the long-term benefits of compounding your investment.(For related reading, see Compound Your Way To Retirement.)

For example, let's say the ABC Fund makes a quarterly income distribution of $100 as a dividend to shareholder Mary Smith. If the fund company has a money market fund, Mary could put the $100 there, which keeps it liquid and at her immediate disposal. The $100 could be sent to her by check or deposited to her bank account. In all of these instances, Mary gets to use the dividend amount any way she pleases. As an alternative, she can elect to reinvest the $100 dividend payment in more shares of the ABC Fund. Generally, this is done through automatic dividend reinvestment instructions established by Mary and automatically executed by the fund company for her account. The dollar amount of her investment in the fund will increase by $100.

By law, mutual funds must pay out income and realized capital gains to the funds' shareholders. These distributions come from a fund's assets, which why a fund's net asset value - and therefore its price - drops accordingly.

To learn more about how price and NAV are related, read Why is it that when investors realize returns on a mutual fund, its price tends to fall?

RELATED FAQS
  1. Can mutual funds outperform savings accounts?

    A mutual fund can – and should – outperform a savings account. In most cases, it should not even be a close race. Savings ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds invest in private companies?

    Mutual funds can invest in private companies, which may come as a surprise to many investors. It is rare for a fund to have ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is there a situation in which wash trading is legal?

    Wash trading, the intentional practice of manipulating a stock's activity level to deceive other investors, is not a legal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What action is the SEC likely to take on 12b-1 fees?

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may take action to impose greater regulation on how 12b-1 fees are used, or ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is considered a reasonable 12b-1 fee?

    A reasonable 12b-1 fee is generally considered to be 0.25% of the assets of the mutual fund. The maximum amount allowed for ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some of the most common mutual funds that give exposure to the retail sector?

    There are a number of mutual funds that give exposure to the retail sector. Three of the most popular funds are the Fidelity ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    5 Mutual Funds that Hold Berkshire Hathaway Stock

    Discover the top five mutual funds most heavily weighted with Berkshire Hathaway stock, and the percentage of their assets dedicated to BRK.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Comparing ETFs Vs. Mutual Funds For Tax Efficiency

    Explore a comparison of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, and learn what makes ETFs a significantly more tax-efficient investment.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds that Hold Tesla Stock

    Obtain information on the four mutual funds that have significant allocations to Tesla Motors, Inc. in their major portfolio holdings.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds that Hold Apple Stock

    Discover mutual funds offering the most substantial percentage of holdings in Apple, Inc. stock that investors can use to get significant exposure to Apple.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Precious Metals Mutual Funds

    Obtain information and analysis of some of the top-rated and most popular mutual funds that offer investors exposure to the precious metals industry.
  6. Insurance

    Whole or Term Life Insurance: Which Is Better?

    Learn the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance. Understand when it is beneficial to buy each type of life insurance.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Bear Market Mutual Funds

    Discover five bear market mutual funds that investors can turn to for generating maximum capital appreciation during a bear market.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds to Consider If Interest Rates Rise

    Learn what mutual funds will perform best if interest rates rise. Interest rates can rise due to inflation or to an improving economy.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Chinese Mutual Funds

    Learn about some of the most popular and best performing mutual funds that offer investors exposure to the important emerging market economy of China.
  10. Investing Basics

    What is a Settlement Date?

    A settlement date is the day a security trade must be settled.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Equity

    The value of an asset less the value of all liabilities on that ...
  2. Series 6

    A securities license entitling the holder to register as a limited ...
  3. Exchange-Traded Mutual Funds (ETMF)

    Investopedia explains the definition of exchange-traded mutual ...
  4. Dividend

    A distribution of a portion of a company's earnings, decided ...
  5. Sharpe Ratio

    A ratio developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe to measure ...
  6. Historic Pricing

    A method for calculating the value of an asset using the last ...

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!