How do fractional cent dividends work?

In ETFs such as SPY, which represents a group of stocks, the dividends come from pooling the underlying dividends and comes to a long decimal (such as $1.383619 on 2019-09-20). 

  1. What is the official source to get the exact dividend amount?  Different online sources state the same dividend rounded to fewer decimal points, so it is unclear what the exact amount is.

  2. I imagine that if the dividend is for value X and you own Y shares, then you will receive X * Y where any rounding to the cent occurs after multiplication.  And that the rounding can vary by broker (i.e. their rounding method, or not rounding at all if they let accounts hold fractional cents).  Are those statements correct?

Similar Question: How is a dividend amount that is a fraction of a penny handled?

1 Answer 1


I have received hundreds of dividends on preferred stocks over the past 20 years and the vast majority of them pay quarterly dividends that have more than two decimal places. The total amount of the dividend received on the Pay Date was rounded out to the nearest full penny. While it makes no difference who does it, I suspect that it is the issuer who is doing so rather than the broker since the broker is merely the intermediary.

I would surmise that the procedure for an ETF should be no different than mentioned above. Each company pays the rounded dividend to the fund and the fund then tallies the quarterly amount up and then carries the total amount of the quarterly dividend out to as many decimal places as they choose. That amount (for example, $1.383619) is then multiplied by the number of shares you own, the total dividend to be paid to you is then rounded to the nearest penny and that's what you receive on the Pay Date.

Even if every SPY company rounded the dividend to the nearest penny, you're only talking about a few dollars, if that, and in the end, it's moot because dividends are not income. Your account value does not increase because of one since share price is reduced by the exchanges by the exact amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date.

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