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Surprise, Surprise: Negative Dividends, Negative Bond Yield, Negative Prices

June 24, 2012

Common presumption of investors is "dividends cannot be negative". I shared this presumption until I got interesting facts within Dividend Heritage Project (see e.g. seekingalpha.com/instablog/725729-sds-se...).

Sometimes companies required the payment of assessment fees from their shareholders. These assessment fees are essentially negative dividend amounts and represent an obligation of the shareholders to make payments.

Some negative dividends were:

Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific (32$ in 1928)

Wallace Murray Corp (10$ in 1927)

British Airways PLC (about 10$ in 1987)

BT Group PLC (about 3$ in 1985 and 1986).

Added 26 March 2014:

To some extend so-called rights (www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/05/... and www.finweb.com/investing/the-rights-offe...) might be considered as negative dividends. Several <European> companies offered rights during 2008-2013 crisis.

Added 31 March-1 April, 2013

An example is bonds with negative yield (see Negative Yield on German 2-Year Note at http://on.wsj.com/Vj5Z0K). I don't know almost anything about bonds. Let me quote from the article in WSJ - "Germany... issued shorter-term treasury bills with a negative yield..." - so I guess the bond prospectus actually says that yield is negative (!).

Added 19 January 2016

Well oil crisis creates negative price for crude oil

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-18/the-north-dakota-crude-oil-that-s-worth-less-than-nothing

Hence common assumptions that dividends, yield of risky financial paper and price are always positive are not always correct.