One of the most common questions I receive through this blog is where to find a company’s dividend history – payouts and growth of dividends. Although it seems like it should be a very easy question to answer it isn’t. Unfortunately I have not found one simple and elegant method to obtain this data. It takes some work – not too much but not usually just a point and click. Oh well, who said makin’ a buck was supposed to be easy![ad#tdg-embedded]
There are websites and services available that allow you to download dividend data, and other fundamental information for a stock, into various software programs. For example, Better Investing has a stock analysis tool that accepts data from their store that includes 10 years of dividend data. Another Canadian option is the Canadian Shareowners Association, which has a similar stock analysis tool and subsequent data. These tools are not cheap but can save a lot of time. I personally use the CSA tool in some of my analysis and find it helpful. However, if you do not want to drop the dough (and would rather invest it) then there are some free ways to get this dividend data. Below I have compiled my three suggestions for doing this – not as easy as the software methods above but still workable.
1. Company Website
The first method can be the most complete, but it can also be the biggest pain in the a$$. The trouble is that companies do not have a consistent layout or reporting style for fundamental data on their stock so it can take some digging. Many times, for companies with poorly run websites the data may not even be there. That being said, it can be a good place to start in your search for dividend information.
The key is to head over to the Investor Relations section of the company website and look for the link called something like ‘Dividends’ or ‘Stock Information’ – it can be called different things on different sites so dig around. Once you find it, you will see something like the comprehensive data found on the Johnson & Johnson website, including the nice graphic below.
2. Google Finance
The second place to look for dividend data is on websites such as MSN or Yahoo!. My favorite right now is Google. The way to find dividend data on Google is to follow the steps below:
a. Point your browser to http://finance.google.com
b. Type in a ticker in the search box
c. Above the chart, click on ‘Settings’
d. Check off ‘Dividends’ on the boxes
e. Click ’10yr’ where is says zoom (top left on the chart)
Once you follow those steps, you will get a chart that looks like the one below with little D’s marking the dividend payments made. You will need to add these all up and enter them in Excel or another spreadsheet program, but it will give you a good indication of the dividend history for that company.
3. An Excel Query
The third – and my favorite way – to get data is to use a combination of the web and Excel to get the data. It involves using a simple Yahoo! URL to obtain the data, dumping that data into Excel, and then manipulating it to your hearts content. Please note that this information was obtained from the awesome work done over at the Gummy Stuff site. If you want to spend a couple of real productive learning hours, then dig through this site!
The first thing you need is a web URL. Here is the format that we will use:
http://ichart.finance.yahoo.com/table.csv?s=[QUOTE]&a=9&b=26&c=[START YEAR]&d=9&e=25&f=[END YEAR]&g=v&ignore=.csv
In this address, I have bolded three key pieces of data that you will replace with your own inputs:
[QUOTE]: Insert the stock ticker of the company you want to get the data for (e.g. jnj)
[START YEAR]: Insert the starting year for the dividend data you require (e.g. 1990)
[END YEAR]: Insert the ending year for the dividend data you require (e.g. 2009)
For reference, I created a URL using the format above:
Simply cut and paste this link into your browser’s address and and you will get a web page with a bunch of data that looks like this:
You now need to copy this data from the web page and paste it into Excel. It is just as it sounds – select the data on the web using your mouse and select a cell in Excel and click paste. This will paste the data into one column. Now use the Excel feature called ‘Text To Columns’ to split the data into two cells. Here is how to do that:
a. Select all the data you just pasted – it should be just one column
b. Go to Data > Text to Columns
c. Select ‘Delimited’ and click Next
d. Select ‘Comma’ (be sure ‘Tab’ is not selected) and click Next
e. Leave the next screen as is and click Finish
You will now be left with the data neatly split into two separate columns that you can analyze to your hearts content. Go ahead and create a chart or calculate the growth rate. Let me know how it goes.
Thanks goes out to Gummy Stuff for the vast amount of information on his site that helped me with building this post!