This morning a “Potential Dividend Run Alert” went out for Essent Group Ltd (NYSE: ESNT), at our DividendChannel.com Dividend Alerts service (a free email alerts feature). Let’s look at the situation in greater detail, shall we?
First of all, what is a “Dividend Run” anyway? This is an interesting concept which we first learned about at a past ValueForum conference. And to best explain the concept, we need to start with the expected behavior of a stock on its ex-dividend date.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, the ex-dividend date marks the trading day when any buyer of the stock is no longer entitled to the referenced dividend — in other words, to be eligible to receive the dividend in question, one would have had to purchase their shares before the ex-dividend date.
All else equal, the stock price would be expected to drop by the dividend amount on that ex-date (remember, that’s “all else equal” and naturally other factors will drive stocks higher/lower on any given day). But think about it: if a buyer is entitled to a 0.25 dividend before ex-date, but no longer entitled to that amount on or after ex-date, then this drop makes perfect sense! Because if the shares didn’t drop by that same 0.25 the next day, then effectively, buyers would effectively be paying 0.25 more for the same share of stock.
But now think about this: if a stock is expected to drop by the dividend amount (all else equal) on ex-date, then in turn, shouldn’t that stock be expected to rise sometime ahead of a dividend? After all, if a dividend-paying stock didn’t ever rise and only fell on each and every ex-date, then eventually after enough dividend payments those shares would have fallen to zero. And that wouldn’t make any sense for a company continually earning money and paying dividends. So indeed, “sometime” before a given dividend, there should be sort of a built-in “pressure” for a stock to gradually rise in expectation of that next cash dividend… in other words: pressure for the stock to have a potential Dividend Run.
And notice we put the word “sometime” in quotes in that last sentence, because there are differing views among different dividend investors about timeframe when it comes to capturing Dividend Run effects. Some like to invest (and then also to sell) on specific target dates; others like to employ some form of dollar cost averaging. Some like to invest shortly before ex-div, hold for the dividend, and then sell on or after ex-date (having actually capturing the dividend / received the income). Others like to sell the day before ex-date (the last possible day where the buyer of the shares will still be “paying for” the upcoming dividend) with the idea to try and maximize capital gain. In this capital-gain-focused scenario, one common timeframe we’ve seen discussed, is to buy about two weeks (ten trading days) prior to the targeted sale date.
For example, consider the 0.25/share ESNT dividend that went “ex-dividend” on 05/31/23. On the prior trading day — the last day where a seller knows that the buyer of their shares will be expecting that dividend amount — shares of ESNT closed at 45.15. And two weeks (ten trading days) prior to that, on 05/15/23, shares closed at a price of 44.17. That means that in the final two-week run-up to the 0.25 dividend, ESNT gained 0.98 in price.
Looking back at the last four dividends paid by ESNT, this strategy would have captured a capital gain in excess of the dividend 3 out of 4 times, with a “Divvy Run” total of +2.81 in capital gains. Incidentally, that exceeds the sum total dividend amounts across those last four dividends, of 0.98. Here’s the data:
|Price 2 Weeks Prior
|Price 1 Day Prior
|“Divvy Run” Total:
In about two weeks from now, Essent Group Ltd (NYSE: ESNT) will go ex-dividend for its latest dividend of 0.25/share. Will Dividend Run history repeat itself?
Upcoming Dividend: 0.25/share
Ex-Div Date: 11/30/23
Payment Date: 12/11/23
Dividend Frequency: Quarterly
Full ESNT Dividend History »
As the saying goes, past performance is never a guarantee of future returns. But one thing’s for sure: for those investors who count Dividend Runs among the tools in their arsenal, ESNT is a good dividend stock to know about and have on your radar screen with its implied annualized yield of 2.02%.
Stay tuned for future Dividend Run candidates, and if you’d like to receive email alerts right into your inbox, enroll in our free Dividend Alerts feature, courtesy of DividendChannel.com.