A dividend reinvestment program or dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) is an
equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the diffe ...
investment option offered directly from the underlying company. The investor does not receive
dividend A dividend is a distribution of profit Profit may refer to: Business and law * Profit (accounting), the difference between the purchase price and the costs of bringing to market * Profit (economics), normal profit and economic profit * Profit ...

s directly as cash; instead, the investor's dividends are directly reinvested in the underlying equity. The investor must still pay
tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act accord ...
annually on his or her dividend income, whether it is received as cash or reinvested. DRIPs allow the investment return from dividends to be immediately invested for the purpose of price appreciation and
compounding In the field of pharmacy, compounding (performed in compounding pharmacies) is preparation of a custom formulation of a medication to fit a unique need of a patient that cannot be met with commercially available products. This may be done for med ...

, without incurring brokerage fees or waiting to accumulate enough
cash In economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societie ...
for a full share of stock. Some DRIPs are free of charge for participants, while others do charge fees and/or proportional commissions. Similarly
income trusts An income trust is an investment that may hold equities, debt instruments, royalty interests or real properties. They are especially useful for financial requirements of institutional investors such as pension funds, and for investors such as retire ...
closed-end fund A closed-end fund (CEF) or closed-ended fund is a collective investment model based on issuing a fixed number of shares which are not redeemable from the fund. Unlike open-end fund Open-end fund (or open-ended fund) is a collective investment ...
s, which are numerous in Canada, can offer a distribution reinvestment plan and a unit purchase plan which operate principally the same as other plans. Because DRIPs, by their nature, encourage long-term investment rather than active trading, they tend to have a stabilizing influence on stock prices.

Cash purchase

Although the name implies that reinvesting dividends is the main purpose of these plans, many companies offer a complementary share purchase plan (SPP). An SPP allows the enrollee to make periodic optional cash purchases (OCP) of company stock. The dollar amount of the OCP is sometimes subject to minimum and maximum limits, e.g. a minimum of $25 per OCP or a maximum that cannot exceed $100,000 per year. Low-fee or no-fee SPPs may be advantageous to enrollees as they offer a quick and cost-effective way to increase their holdings. And just like when dividends are reinvested, optional cash purchases are for fractional shares to 3 or 4 decimal places. DRIPs have become popular means of investment for a wide variety of investors as they enable them to effectively take advantage of
dollar-cost averaging Dollar cost averaging (DCA) is an investment strategy that aims to reduce the impact of Volatility (finance), volatility on large purchases of financial assets such as equities. Dollar cost averaging is also called the constant dollar plan (in the U ...
with income in the form of corporate dividends that the company is paying out. This way, the investor is guaranteed the return of whatever the dividend yield is, but he or she is also subject to market risk due to the price fluctuations of the stock.

Acquiring stock

The majority of plans require the potential investor to become a registered shareholder, as opposed to a beneficial shareholder. Registered shareholders are direct owners of company stock and are listed with a company's transfer agent, whereas beneficial shareholders hold their stock through a proxy, such as a brokerage account or an investment dealer. In the past, this meant having to keep stock certificates as proof of ownership, but now most plans are in paperless, "book-entry" format. In Canada, you must start a DRIP with a certificate and, as such, Canadian enrollees must have the share certificates to do so. All subsequent shares acquired through the DRIP or SPP would be in "book-entry" format. In addition, certain DRIPs offer (with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC approval in the US) a direct enrollment option, in which the initial share purchase may itself be made through the DRIP, thereby avoiding retail brokerage fees and commissions. This option is often called a "direct share purchase plan" or "direct stock purchase plan" (DSPP). DRIP expert Charles Carlson has dubbed such plans "no-load stocks". However, describing such plans as "no-load stock" plans is extremely misleading. In the mid-1990s, when investing through company-sponsored plans became more popular, such "no-load" plans were created and promoted by certain transfer agents in order to create fees each time an investment is made through the plan (and, in many cases, for each dividend reinvestment). Traditional DRIPs, those available only to those who are already shareholders, are more likely to be "no-fee" plans. There are many no-fee versions of DRIPs, SPPs and DSPPs which are an efficient way to build holdings over time by making small regular investments on a
dollar-cost averaging Dollar cost averaging (DCA) is an investment strategy that aims to reduce the impact of Volatility (finance), volatility on large purchases of financial assets such as equities. Dollar cost averaging is also called the constant dollar plan (in the U ...
basis. In some DRIPs, the investor has the option of receiving some or all dividends by check, as opposed to full reinvestment. Also, if a DRIP is discontinued, the investor's shares typically continue to be held in book-entry form, either including fractional shares or with a refund check issued for the fractional part of the position. A downside of using DRIPs is that the investor must keep track of cost basis for many small purchases of stock, and maintain records of these purchases in paper or electronic form. This assures that the investor can accurately calculate the capital gains tax when any shares are sold, and document cost basis to their government if requested. This record keeping can become burdensome (or costly, if done by an accountant) if the investor participates in more than one DRIP for many years. For example, participating in 15 DRIPs for ten years, with all of the stocks paying quarterly dividends, would result in at least 615 share lots to keep track of—the 15 initial purchases, plus 600 reinvested dividends. Further complications arise if the investor periodically buys or sells shares, or if the company is involved in an event requiring adjustments to cost basis, such as a corporate spin-off, spin-off or a merger. While the term "DRIP" is usually associated with company-sponsored plans, reinvestment of stock dividends is also available at no cost through some brokerage firms. This is called a synthetic DRIP. The drawback to broker DRIPs is that they do not allow for optional cash purchases. If the investor wants to acquire additional shares, he or she must pay a commission for each subsequent purchase.



External links

Are DRIPs Worth it?
Pros and cons of using dividend reinvestment plans
DRIP Investing Resource Center
A community of people involved in dividend reinvestment programs
Dividend Information
A searchable database of dividend payouts and history for all stocks
Canadian DRIP Primer
Step by step guide to starting a Canadian dividend reinvestment plan and lists of Canadian companies and trusts with DRIPs
Australian DRIPs
resources, information, and guides to Dividend Reinvestment Plans in Australia including a searchable database of listed DRIPs.
membership organization that helps investor's acquire one share of stock for DRIP enrollment.
What is a Dividend Reinvestment Plan
An article about dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) including a variety of examples so you can easily understand how DRIPs work.
educational articles, resources and a complete list of Dividend Reinvestment Plans.
Things to consider before buying a share and enrolling in a dividend reinvestment plan
This article takes an in-depth look at the things you need to consider before buying a share and enrolling in a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP). Dividends, Reinvestment program Stock market