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I understand that the ETFs SPY and VOO were created at different times and that their payout dates are different and due to that, it is possible that the dividends may vary a little bit.

In my logic though, over time, they should have the exact same amout of dividends (maybe with fees deducted) but what VOO doesn't pay out this quarter, it should be paying out next.

As VOO's fees are smaller than SPY, the dividend should even be higher than SPYs. But the dividend history of the two ETFs shows another picture (VOO's are always smaller by a significant amount):

SPY's Dividend History

VOO's Dividend History

Can somebody explain this?

  • 4
    Check dividend yield instead of the amount you receive. Amount received is wrong way of deciding returns from an investment. And the dividend paid is decided depending on what the firm will do in the future. So future actions will decide what will be paid out. – DumbCoder Apr 12 '17 at 12:51
  • Don't use the backtick markup for giving words emphasis. Screen readers will think that is a code block. Use bold and italics for emphasis. – Mindwin Apr 12 '17 at 17:44
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Do you see how VOO and SPY don't have the same price?

Say you and I both start an S&P index ETF. For sake of easy paperwork, and to discourage small customers, you sell shares at a starting value of $10,000. But, I like the little guy and start at $10.

Your dividends per share will be 1000 times mine. But, if my customer hold 1000 shares, and you have a customer with 1, they should see identical dividend payments.

The simpler answer? SPY looks like it's 1/10 of the S&P index, VOO wasn't priced that way. Consider, it opened on 9/9/2010 at 102.50 VS SPY at 111.65.

This (way VOO is priced) is typical of mutual funds. Even index funds are usually started at a $10 price, and while growing with the index, it's up to the buyer to use some math if we wish to think of our holding as xx number of S&P units.

In fact, that's how I track the value of one of my daughter's college funds, as "14.44269 * S&P". And I update the multiplier every quarter or so, to account for deposits and reinvested dividends.

  • 2
    This makes me feel really stupid. I know this principle in the stockmarket - but since the ETFs track the same "thing" I got confused and thought they must pay the same. Thanks for clarifying. – NoRyb Apr 12 '17 at 13:16
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    Stupid? Hardly. There's virtually nothing intuitive about finance, and the only way to learn is to ask. We are happy to help. – JoeTaxpayer Apr 12 '17 at 13:19
  • 4
    Seriously. Finance is precisely as complicated as humans can make it. – Harper Apr 12 '17 at 17:21

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