What Is DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN? What Does DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN Mean?

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What is DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN? What does DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN mean? DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN meaning - DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN definition - DIVIDEND REINVESTMENT PLAN explanation.

Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.

A dividend reinvestment program or dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) is an equity investment option offered directly from the underlying company. The investor does not receive quarterly dividends directly as cash; instead, the investor's dividends are directly reinvested in the underlying equity. (The investor must still pay tax annually on his or her dividend income, whether it is received or reinvested.)

This allows the investment return from dividends to be immediately invested for the purpose of price appreciation and compounding, without incurring brokerage fees or waiting to accumulate enough cash for a full share of stock. Some DRIPs are free of charge for participants, while others do charge fees and/or proportional commissions.

Similarly income trusts and closed-end funds, which are numerous in Canada, can offer a distribution reinvestment plan and a unit purchase plan which operate principally the same as other plans.

Because DRIPs, by their nature, encourage long-term investment rather than active trading, they tend to have a stabilizing influence on stock prices.

Although the name implies that reinvesting dividends is the main purpose of these plans, many companies offer a complementary share purchase plan (SPP). An SPP allows the enrollee to make periodic optional cash purchases (OCP) of company stock. The dollar amount of the OCP is sometimes subject to minimum and maximum limits, e.g. a minimum of $25 per OCP or a maximum that cannot exceed $100,000 per year. Low-fee or no-fee SPPs may be advantageous to enrollees as they offer a quick and cost-effective way to increase their holdings. And just like when dividends are reinvested, optional cash purchases are for fractional shares to 3 or 4 decimal places.

DRIPs have become popular means of investment for a wide variety of investors as they enable them to effectively take advantage of dollar-cost averaging with income in the form of corporate dividends that the company is paying out. This way, the investor is guaranteed the return of whatever the dividend yield is, but he or she is also subject to market risk due to the price fluctuations of the stock.

The majority of plans require the potential investor to become a registered shareholder, as opposed to a beneficial shareholder. Registered shareholders are direct owners of company stock and are listed with a company's transfer agent, whereas beneficial shareholders hold their stock through a proxy, such as a brokerage account or an investment dealer. In the past, this meant having to keep stock certificates as proof of ownership, but now most plans are in paperless, "book-entry" format. In Canada, you must start a DRIP with a certificate and, as such, Canadian enrollees must have the share certificates to do so. All subsequent shares acquired through the DRIP or SPP would be in "book-entry" format.

In addition, certain DRIPs offer (with SEC approval in the US) a direct enrollment option, in which the initial share purchase may itself be made through the DRIP, thereby avoiding retail brokerage fees and commissions. This option is often called a "direct share purchase plan" or "direct stock purchase plan" (DSPP). DRIP expert Charles Carlson has dubbed such plans "no-load stocks". However, describing such plans as "no-load stock" plans is extremely misleading. In the mid-1990s, when investing through company-sponsored plans became more popular, such "no-load" plans were created and promoted by certain transfer agents in order to create fees each time an investment is made through the plan (and, in many cases, for each dividend reinvestment). Traditional DRIPs, those available only to those who are already shareholders, are more likely to be "no-fee" plans.
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