In trading on Tuesday, shares of Chevron were yielding above the 5% mark based on its quarterly dividend (annualized to $5.36), with the stock changing hands as low as $106.28 on the day. Dividends are particularly important for investors to consider, because historically speaking dividends have provided a considerable share of the stock market’s total return.
To illustrate, suppose for example you purchased shares of the S&P 500 ETF back on 12/31/1999 — you would have paid $146.88 per share. Fast forward to 12/31/2012 and each share was worth $142.41 on that date, a decrease of $4.67/share over all those years. But now consider that you collected a whopping $25.98 per share in dividends over the same period, for a positive total return of 23.36%. Even with dividends reinvested, that only amounts to an average annual total return of about 1.6%; so by comparison collecting a yield above 5% would appear considerably attractive if that yield is sustainable. Chevron is an S&P 500 company, giving it special status as one of the large-cap companies making up the S&P 500 Index.
In general, dividend amounts are not always predictable and tend to follow the ups and downs of profitability at each company. In the case of Chevron , looking at the history chart for CVX below can help in judging whether the most recent dividend is likely to continue, and in turn whether it is a reasonable expectation to expect a 5% annual yield.