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When investing in dividend stocks, there are a few important dates to keep in mind. These meaningful dates tell an investor when he or she collects the dividends and or if they are even eligible to collect the most recent dividend.

What does the Ex-Dividend date mean?

The Ex-Dividend date is the most important date in dividend investing. Ex-Dividend is the day on which all shares purchased and sold no longer come with deserved-to-be-paid the most recently declared dividend. It is just as important for investors, however, since you must own a stock before the ex-dividend date in order to receive the next scheduled dividend.

Prior to ex-dividend date, the stock is said to be cum dividend "with dividend," and remaining share holders of the stock and anyone who buys it will receive the dividend, whereas any holders selling the stock lose their right to the dividend. On and after this date the stock becomes ex dividend "without dividend," and remaining share holders of the stock will receive the dividend even if they now sell the stock, whereas anyone who now buys the stock will no longer receive the dividend.

What does the record date mean?

Record date is automatic for shares purchased before the ex-dividend date.

What is the payment date?

The payment date or "payout date" is the day when the dividends will actually be delivered to the shareholders of a company and credited to brokerage accounts.

What is the declaration date?

The declaration date or "announcement date" is the day on which a company's board of directors announces its next dividend payment.

For instance, Apple's AAPL Board of Directors officially declared a $2.65 dividend per share on July 24, 2012. The dividend is payable on August 16, 2012, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 13, 2012. The ex-dividend date is August 9, 2012.

Below is a list of stock types (common shares, preferred shares, ETFs, ETNs ADRs) and bonds reporting an ex-dividend date July 27, 2012.

Company

Name

Ex-Div

Date

Pay

Date

Dividend Yield

(July 25, 2012)

Ace Limited ACE7/278/212.71 %
Athens Bankshares AFCB7/278/171.38 %
Ameritrade AMTD7/278/141.55 %
A.O. Smith AOS7/278/151.63 %
Atlantic Power Corp AT7/278/318.08 %
Brookfield Canada Office Prop. BOXC7/278/159.01 %
Baytex Energy Corp BTE7/278/156.30 %
Peabody Energy BTU7/278/211.78 %
Nuveen Diversified Fund CFD7/278/18.24 %
Capano Energy CPNO7/278/97.85 %
Cross Timbers Reality Trust CRT7/278/147.01 %

DNP Select Income Fund DNP

7/278/106.76 %
EAA Entergy Arkansas Inc EAA7/278/15.08 %
Education Reality Trust EDR7/278/153.51 %
Entergy Mississippi Inc. EMQ7/278/15.59 %
Entergy Mississippi Inc. EMZ7/278/15.19 %
El Paso Partners Pipeline EPB7/278/146.27 %
Enterprise Products Partners EDP7/278/86.27 %
Aberdeen Emerging Markets ETF7/278/171.40 %
Eaton Vance EV7/278/102.79 %
Aberdeen Asia-Pacific Income FAX7/278/175.33 %
Aberdeen Global Income FCO7/278/175.91 %
Franklin Universal Trust FT7/278/156.25 %
Franklin Templeton Limited FTF7/278/156.48 %
Full Circle Capital Corp FULL7/278/1511.34 %
STRATS Trust AllState Corp GJT7/278/11.51 %
CABCO Ser 2004-1 Trust GYA7/278/156.07 %
Hugoton Royalty Trust HGT7/278/145.52 %
Inland Real Estate IRC7/278/177.13 %
Kinder Morgan Inc. KMI7/278/153.97 %
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners KMP7/278/146.03 %
Corts Trust Bristol Myers KNR7/278/16.27 %

Lankland Bancorp LBAI

7/278/152.53 %
Alliant Energy LNT7/278/153.90 %
LRR Energy L.P. LRE7/278/1411.41 %
Morgan Stanley MS7/278/151.54 %
Mesa Royalty Trust Units MTR7/2710/314.51 %
Neuberger Berman NBH7/278/154.96 %
Neuberger Berman NY NBO7/278/154.79 %
Neuberger Berman Calif NBW7/278/154.86 %
Enduro Royalty Trust NDRO7/278/149.90 %
NiSource NI7/278/203.82 %
National Retail Properties NNN7/278/145.33 %
National Rural Utilities NRC7/278/205.87 %
Northwest Natural Gas NWN7/278/153.69 %
Omega HealthCare Investors OHI7/278/17.02 %
Poage Bankshares Inc. PBSK7/278/151.33 %
Permian Basin Royalty Trust PBT7/278/144.84 %
PreferredPlus Trust PIS7/278/18.37 %
Prospect Capital Corporation PSEC7/278/2410.99 %
PPLUS Trust PYA7/278/16.74 %
Pacific Coast Oil Trust ROYT7/278/1410.60 %
San Juan Basin Royalty Trust SJT7/278/143.90 %
Suburban Propane L.P. SPH7/278/77.85 %
Student Transportation Inc. STB7/278/158.83 %
Susquehanna Bancshares SUSQ7/278/202.35 %
Transamerica Income Shares TAI7/278/156.19 %
Transmontiagne Partners L.P. TLP7/278/207.18 %
Texas Instruments TXN7/278/92.55 %
Value Line VALU7/278/134.90 %
Western Gas Partners L.P. WES7/278/74.28 %
Wynn Resorts WYNN7/278/142.16 %
Corporate Backed Trust Cert. XFR7/278/15.94 %

Note: It is common for a stock's underlying price to decrease on the ex-dividend date by an amount approximately equal to the dividend. This reflects the decrease in the company's assets resulting from the declaration of the dividend.

Source: After The Ex-Dividend, Your Payment Date