What is a 'Distribution Yield'
A distribution yield is a measurement of cash flow paid by an exchangetraded fund (ETF), real estate investment trust, or another type of incomepaying vehicle. Rather than calculating the yield based on an aggregate of distributions, the most recent distribution is annualized and divided by the net asset value (NAV) of the security at the time of the payment.
BREAKING DOWN 'Distribution Yield'
Distribution yields can be used as a metric for cash flow comparisons for annuity and fixed income investments, but basing the calculation on a single payment can distort the actual returns paid over longer periods.
The calculation for distribution yields employs the most recent distribution, which may be interest, a special dividend, or a capital gain, and multiplies the payment by 12 to get an annualized total. The annualized total is then divided by the net asset value (NAV) to determine the distribution yield. For example, if a fund priced at $20 per share collects 8 cents in interest payments during a month, the interest is multiplied by 12 for an annualized total of 96 cents. Dividing 96 cents by $20 gives a distribution yield of 4.8%.
While this metric is often used to compare fixed income investments, the singlepayment calculation method can potentially extrapolate larger or smallerthannormal payments into distribution yields that do not reflect the actual payments made over the trailing 12 months or another representative period of time.
Capital Gains and Distribution Yield
Mutual funds and ETFs usually issue capital gains distributions on an annual basis. These distributions represent the net trading profits realized during the year, which are divided into longterm and shortterm gains. A distribution yield calculated using either of these payments has the potential to reflect an inaccurate annualized return. For example, calculating the yield based on a longterm capital gain distribution greater than monthly interest payments results in a distribution yield higher than the amount paid to investors over the preceding year. On the other hand, a calculation using a capital gains distribution less than monthly interest payments results in a lowerthanactual distribution yield.
Special Dividends
The distribution of onetime special dividends can also skew distribution yields higher than actual returns. When a nonrecurring dividend is paid by a company in a fundâ€™s portfolio, the payment is included with the recurring dividends for that month. A yield calculated on a payment including a special dividend may reflect a larger distribution yield than is actually being paid by the fund.
Interest and Recurring Dividends
Yield calculations based on distributions composed of interest and recurring dividends are generally more accurate than those using onetime or infrequent payments. The exclusion of nonrecurring payments, however, can result in a distribution yield lower than the actual payouts during the preceding year.
Determining True Yield
Distribution yields generally provide a snapshot of income payments for investors, but the variables posed by capital gains distributions and special dividends can skew returns. To determine true yield, investors can total all distributions over the preceding 12 months and divide the sum by the NAV at that time.

Distribution
Distribution occurs when a mutual fund, company or retirement ... 
Capital Gains Distribution
Capital gains distribution occurs when a mutual fund manager ... 
Indicated Yield
Indicated yield is the dividend yield that a share of stock would ... 
Yield
Yield is the return a company gives back to investors for investing ... 
Gross Yield
The gross yield is the yield on an investment before the deduction ... 
Cash Distribution Per Unit (CDPU)
Cash distribution per unit is a measure that refers to the amount ...

Investing
Most Common Probability Distributions
In this article, we'll go over a few of the most popular probability distributions and show you how to calculate them. 
Investing
How Bond Yields Could Topple the Stock Market
Bond yields have reached a crucial point since the election that could be bad news for the stock market. 
Investing
4 Types Of Money Market Yields
Learn to calculate, and discover the difference between the 4 types of yields; bank discount yield, holding period yield, effective annual yield, and money market yield 
Financial Advisor
How to Save Clients from RMD Aggregation Mistakes
Advisors can help clients avoid required minimum distribution mistakes in their retirement plans. 
Investing
Yield vs. Total Return: How They Are Different
Understanding yield vs. total return is essential in constructing portfolios that meet income generating needs while providing growth for the future. 
Investing
A History of the S&P 500 Dividend Yield
Find out why the dividend yield for the S&P 500 Index remains historically low, and what dividend yields used to look like before the Internet Age. 
Financial Advisor
Income tax on mutual funds: The basics
Learn about the basics of income tax on mutual funds, including what types of income may be subject to the capital gains tax rate.

Which is more important  dividend yield or total return?
Learn to distinguish between those times when dividend yield or total return is a more useful performance metric for a company's ... Read Answer >> 
What is the difference between yield and dividend?
Learn how to differentiate between dividend yield and dividend return, and see why dividend yield is the more popular rate ... Read Answer >>