When a company earns profits from operations, management can do one of two things with those profits. It can choose to retain them - essentially reinvesting them into the company with the hope of creating more profits and thus further stock appreciation. The alternative is to distribute a portion of the profits to shareholders in the form of dividends. Management can also opt to repurchase some of its own shares - a move that would also benefit shareholders.

A company must keep growing at an above-average pace to justify reinvesting in itself rather than paying a dividend. Generally speaking, when a company's growth slows, its stock won't climb as much, and dividends will be necessary to keep shareholders around. This growth slowdown happens to virtually all companies after they attain a large market capitalization. A company will simply reach a size at which it no longer has the potential to grow at annual rates of 30-40% like a small cap, regardless of how much money is plowed back into it. At a certain point, the law of large numbers makes a mega-cap company and growth rates that outperform the market an impossible combination.
In this section, we'll take a deeper look at the different types of dividends and the mechanics of dividend payments; how companies establish dividend policy and the different types of dividend policies; the reasons why companies and investors might prefer higher, lower or no dividend payments; and share repurchases, stock splits and stock dividends as an alternative to cash dividends.

Cash Dividends And Dividend Payment

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Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What Was the First Company to Issue Stock?

    The Dutch East India Co. held an IPO in 1602, making it the first company to issue stock.
  2. When Does a Corporation Decide to Refinance Debt?

    Favorable market conditions or the strengthening of a credit rating may lead to refinancing.
  3. What Is an Odd-Lot Buyback?

    Odd-lot buybacks involve lots of less than 100 shares. Learn how companies get these shares back.
  4. Can I buy a house directly from Fannie Mae (FNMA)?

    Yes, Fannie Mae does sell properties it's foreclosed on; each property is sold in "as is" condition.
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