Stock Dividend Definition, Explanation, and Journal Entries

Stock dividends and stock splits are issued to reduce the market price of capital stock and keep potential investors interested in the possibility of acquiring ownership. A stock dividend is recorded as a reduction in retained earnings and an increase in contributed capital. However, stock dividends have no immediate impact on the financial condition of either the company or its stockholders. After the distribution, the total stockholders’ equity remains the same as it was prior to the distribution. The amounts within the accounts are merely shifted from the earned capital account (Retained Earnings) to the contributed capital accounts (Common Stock and Additional Paid-in Capital).

  1. Corporations experiencing growth generally are more likely to issue a stock dividend than stable, mature firms.
  2. Briefly indicate the accounting entries necessary to recognize the split in the company’s accounting records and the effect the split will have on the company’s balance sheet.
  3. Stock dividends are monetary rewards that shareholders (individuals who own a piece, or “share”, of the company) receive.
  4. Based on our previous example, the ex-dividend date is when the stock would start trading at $9.09, a reduction from $10.

In this case, the journal entry transfers the par value of the issued shares from retained earnings to paid-in capital. Stock dilution is reducing the earnings per share (EPS) and the ownership percentage of existing shareholders when new shares are issued. Unlike cash dividends, which are paid out of a company’s earnings, stock dividends include the issuance of additional shares to existing shareholders. Such dividends—in full or in part—must be declared by the board of directors before paid.

How do you record stock distributions?

If a balance sheet date intervenes between the declaration and distribution dates, the dividend can be recorded with an adjusting entry or simply disclosed supplementally. For the company, a stock dividend is a pain-free way to issue dividends without depleting its cash reserves. The journal entry of the distribution of the large stock dividend is the same as those of the small stock dividend. You would pay the dividend in cash, and when you did, the dividend payable liability would be reduced.

The ownership stake of each shareholder is diluted as the total number of shares increases, although they receive additional shares. Similar to the cash dividend, the company may not have the stock dividends account. This is usually due to it doesn’t want to bother keeping the general ledger of the current year dividends. After this journal entry, total assets on working capital days the balance sheet and total revenues on the income statement of the company ABC will increase by $5,000. A dividend payment includes the amount of cash or other investments distributed to shareholders. As noted, this is often referred to as capitalizing retained earnings, because a portion of retained earnings becomes part of the firm’s permanent invested capital.

Conversely, if a preferred stock is noncumulative, a missed dividend is simply lost to the owners. It has no impact on the future allocation of dividends between preferred and common shares. When the dividend is declared by the board, the date of record is also set. All shareholders who own the stock on that day qualify for receipt of the dividend. The ex-dividend date is the first day on which an investor is not entitled to the dividend.

1As can be seen in this press release, the terms “stock dividend” and “stock split” have come to be virtually interchangeable to the public. However, minor legal differences do exist that actually impact reporting. Par value is changed to create a stock split but not for a stock dividend. Interestingly, stock splits have no reportable impact on financial statements but stock dividends do.

A small stock dividend (generally less than 20-25% of the existing shares outstanding) is accounted for at market price on the date of declaration. A large stock dividend (generally over the 20-25% range) is accounted for at par value. In contrast to cash dividends discussed earlier in this chapter, stock dividends involve the issuance of additional shares of stock to existing shareholders on a proportional basis.

Both small and large stock dividends cause an increase in common stock and a decrease to retained earnings. This is a method of capitalizing (increasing stock) a portion of the company’s earnings (retained earnings). A small stock dividend occurs when a stock dividend distribution is less than 25% of the total outstanding shares based on the shares outstanding prior to the dividend distribution. To illustrate, assume that Duratech Corporation has 60,000 shares of $0.50 par value common stock outstanding at the end of its second year of operations. Duratech’s board of directors declares a 5% stock dividend on the last day of the year, and the market value of each share of stock on the same day was $9.

Stock Splits and Stock Dividends

The declaration to record the property dividend is a decrease (debit) to Retained Earnings for the value of the dividend and an increase (credit) to Property Dividends Payable for the $210,000. The decision to payout dividends to shareholders lies on the company’s management. It is the date the company’s directors formally approve the fraction of the SD through a vote. In this article, however, stock dividends shall be our primary topic of discussion.

Dividends Payable is classified as a current liability on the balance sheet, since the expense represents declared payments to shareholders that are generally fulfilled within one year. Rapidly growing companies often have share splits to keep the per share price from reaching stratospheric levels that could deter some investors. In the final analysis, understand that a stock split is mostly cosmetic as it does not change the underlying economics of the firm.

Small stock dividends

Shareholders are typically entitled to receive dividends in proportion to the number of shares they own. The key takeaway from our example is that a stock dividend does not affect the total value of the shares that each shareholder holds in the company. As the number of shares increases, the price per share decreases accordingly because the market capitalization must remain the same. On the other hand, if the company issues stock dividends more than 20% to 25% of its total common stocks, the par value is used to assign the value to the dividend.

For example, the company ABC has stock investment in the company XYZ where it holds 30% shares of ownership. On December 31, the company XYZ reports a net income of $500,000 for the year, and at the same time, it also declares and pays the cash dividend of $60,000 to its stockholders. Dividends are typically paid in cash, but they can also be distributed in the form of additional shares of stock or other investments. Subsequently, South Gulf issues a 20% stock dividend, and so the investor will receive an additional 200 shares (1,000 x .20). As the company has declared a 10% stock dividend, it would be accounted just like a cash dividend. Stock dividends (also called bonus shares) refer to issuance of shares of common stock by a company to its existing shareholders in the proportion of their shareholding without any receipt of cash.

The subsequent distribution will reduce the Common Stock Dividends Distributable account with a debit and increase the Common Stock account with a credit for the $9,000. Get instant access to lessons taught by experienced private equity pros and bulge bracket investment bankers including financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel Modeling. He’s currently a VP at KCK Group, the private equity arm of a middle eastern family office. Osman has a generalist industry focus on lower middle market growth equity and buyout transactions. Amy is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), having worked in the accounting industry for 14 years. She is a seasoned finance executive having held various positions both in public accounting and most recently as the Chief Financial Officer of a large manufacturing company based out of Michigan.

What is the approximate value of your cash savings and other investments?

It issues new shares in proportion to the existing holdings of shareholders. As the company ABC owns 30% of shares of ownership, under the equity method, it needs to record 30% of XYZ’s net income which is $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%)as an increase in the stock investments. And at the same time, it also needs to record the dividend received of $18,000 ($60,000 x 30%) as a decrease in stock investments.

What is the Definition of Dividends Payable?

When the company issued 10% more shares, the total shares issued increased to $1.1 million. So, the share price decreases to $9.091 ($10,000,000 market cap./ $1,100,000 shares). It does not increase the company’s market value as share prices decrease to accommodate the newly issued shares. Since every stockholder will receive additional shares, and since the corporation is no better off after the stock dividend, the value of each share should decrease. In other words, since the corporation is the same before and after the stock dividend, the total market value of the corporation remains the same. Because there are 10% more shares outstanding, each share should drop in value.

However, it’s not a good look for a company to abruptly stop paying or pay less in dividends than in the past. The frequency and amount of dividends paid are determined by the company and normally follow regular patterns, such as quarterly or annually. The reduced cost per share will increase the gain or decrease the loss on subsequent sales of the stock. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. Tools like the dividend yield, Dividend Per Share (DPS), and Dividend Payout Ratio (DPR).

After a 2-for-1 stock split, the same stockholder still owns just 1% of the corporation (2,000 ÷ 200,000). Before the split, 1,000 shares at $80 each totaled $80,000; after the split, 2,000 shares at $40 each still totals $80,000. However, sometimes the company does not have a dividend account such as dividends declared account. This is usually the case in which the company doesn’t want to bother keeping the general ledger of the current year dividends.


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