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Suppose I own 100 stocks in a company listed on the LSE. I purchased these shares through an online broker some time around the 1st of November 2016. Looking up the dividend dates of the company using this site I find the following information:

Market  Dividend    Declaration Date    Ex-Dividend Date    Payment Date
FTSE 100    4.6p    28-Jul-16           20-Oct-16           22-Nov-16

What do each of these dates mean?

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No, you're not entitled to the dividend payment, as you bought the shares after the "Ex-Dividend" Date. The price you paid for the stocks should have been reduced accordingly to reflect that.

Declaration date: When the company says how much the dividend will be. Absent some catastrophic event after that, this is a promise that they will pay this much as a dividend on the nominated day.

The share price will tend to react to the announced dividend by going up if it was above predictions and going down if it was below predictions. This reaction is all about the market's perception of the company's value and the value of having a guaranteed cashflow, rather than some intrinsic change in the value of the shares.

Ex-Dividend date: When the ownership of the shares is snapshotted to determine who actually receives the dividend. Anyone owning shares up to and including the market opening time on the ex-dividend date is entitled to the dividend.

The share price will naturally drop by the amount of the dividend when the market opens on the ex-dividend date, to reflect the fact that new purchasers will not receive the dividend. As well as this intrinsic change in value, other overnight events may affect the share price in the normal way that share prices move.

Payment date: When the dividend is actually paid out to the people who are entitled to it.

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    The share will also drop on the "Declaration Date" if the market didn't like what it heard. It usually doesn't like it. – Mindwin Nov 22 '16 at 18:10
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    I have a bit of a twist. I purchased shares the day before the Ex-Dividend date. However I later saw that I didn't receive the dividends for that transaction. The reason, as it was explained to me, was that the sale didn't clear for 3 days, putting the actual date of my ownership after the Ex-dividend date. This seems "suspect" to me since the shares from my purchase were subject to market fluctuation the moment I pulled the trigger on the sale. Is this common? Who got the dividend if the Ex-Dividend date fell in that 3 day period? – That Idiot Nov 22 '16 at 21:10
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    @That idiot : you should ask a new question about your specific experience. I hope you were at least charged the ex-dividend price. – Ganesh Sittampalam Nov 22 '16 at 21:15
  • will do. I'll have to dig up the transaction history. – That Idiot Nov 22 '16 at 21:22
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    @ChrisH - no, he said he purchased the day before ex-div and sale cleared 3 days after (meaning settlement was 3 days after), not that he put the order in and it was bought 3 days later. So if he didn't get the dividend I would be reporting the broker to authorities. – Victor Nov 23 '16 at 10:57

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