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Trading Apple (AAPL) (or any stock) around the ex-dividend date can be incredibly confusing. It is the ex-dividend date that determines which investor, the buyer or seller, receives the dividend. Ex-dividend dates are used to make sure dividend checks go to the right people. Below is a chart of the ex-dividend date and record date:

Wednesday

8th

Thursday

9th

Friday

10th

Saturday

11th

Sunday

12th

Monday

13th

with
dividend

Ex- Dividend

without dividendMarket ClosedMarket ClosedRecord Date

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 guarantees on the declared dividend. Apple shareholders must own a stock before the ex-dividend date in order to receive the next scheduled dividend.

Apple ex-divdend payment date August 09, 2012

Buying Apple Stock

If you were to buy a stock before the ex-dividend date, no matter if in pre-market trading, regular trading or after-hours trading, you do qualify for the dividend.

If you were to buy on or after the ex-dividend-date, whether in pre-market trading, regular trading, or after-hours trading, you do not qualify for the dividend.

For example, if a trader were to buy Apple stock before Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. (after hours), he or she would receive Apple's $2.65 dividend, payable on Aug. 16, 2012. However, if a trader were to buy Apple stock on or after the ex-dividend date, Aug. 9, 2012, he or she does not qualify for the dividend.

Selling Apple Stock

If you sold shares before the ex-dividend date, no matter if in pre-market trading, regular trading or after-hours trading, you will not qualify for the dividend.

If you sold shares on or after the ex-dividend date, whether in pre-market trading, regular trading, or after-hours trading, you do qualify for the dividend.

For example, if a trader sold Apple shares on or after Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, 7:00 a.m., he or she would receive Apple's $2.65 dividend, payable Aug. 16, 2012.

Yet if a trader were to sell Apple shares before the ex-dividend date, he or she does not qualify for the dividend.

Extended Hours Trading

Another area of confusion about ex-dividend dates is how pre-market and after-hour trading influences dividends. Apple's ex-dividend date includes extended hours trading both pre-market and after hours (7:00 a.m. ET to 8:00 p.m. ET). Pre-market trading occurs from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. After-hours trading on a day with a normal session occurs from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Extended Market Hours

7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

After Market Hours

4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Regular Market Hours

8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Pre-Market Hours

7:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Record and Payment Date

Shareholders should also take note of 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. For instance, Apple's board of directors officially declared a $2.65 dividend per share on July 24, 2012. The dividend is payable on Aug. 16, 2012, to stockholders of record or "unit holders of record" as of the close of business on Aug. 13, 2012. The ex-dividend date is Aug. 9, 2012.

(click image to enlarge)

August Calendar Apple Dividend Payable Date August 16, 2012

If you are not on Apple record books on the date of record -- August 13, 2012 -- you will not receive the dividend payment. To ensure that you are in the record books, you need to buy the stock at least three business days before the date of record, which also happens to be the day before the ex-dividend date.

Additional Information

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.

Prior to Ex-Dividend Dates

Traders must also consider that it is common for a stock's underlying price to decrease on or before 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. The declaration date or "announcement date" is the day on which a company's board of directors announces its next dividend payment.

Source: Apple Dividend, Last Call