What is a DRIP? A Canadian Explanation
DRIP is an acronym for Dividend ReInvestment Plan.
Canadian companies that are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), can decide to use the money they earn as profits to pay their shareholders. This payment is called a Dividend. Obviously, not all companies make money, and as such not all companies pay dividends. Likewise, just because a company is profitable doesn't mean it will pay a dividend.
Let us pretend you own 100 shares of XYZ Company and a dividend is declared of $0.25 per share, so you would be paid $25.00. Dividends are normally paid quarterly, so you get $25 every 3 month unless the company raises, lowers or stops their dividend payments.
Now what to do with that cash?! Well, some Canadian companies offer to its shareholders the option of reinvesting that dividend payment by buying more shares in the company. Instead of receiving a cheque, you would receive more stock in that company. This is called a DRIP.
A slight difference is with Income Trusts (Royalty Trusts, Real Estate Income Trusts, etc...) is that they pay what's called a Distribution and is most often monthly. Distribution Reinvestment Plans exist just the same as regular DRIPs and the term is used interchangeably.
DRIPs are very beneficial to shareholders since they offer many great features. The biggest being Fractional Share Purchases of your dividend payment.
$25.00 in Dividends, Share Price of $43.90, your DRIP would buy 0.569 Shares
This would repeat each quarter, so long as the dividend is paid and would be adjusted for the determined share price. So even if you only owned a few shares, you'd still benefit from the power of compounding.
SPP is an acronym for Share Purchase Plan.
Another benefit of Canadian DRIPs is if the company offers a complementary Share Purchase Plan, or SPP. A SPP allows shareholders to make Optional Cash Purchases (OCP) whenever they want to buy additional shares for FREE. Currently in Canada most purchases must be done by cheque but some of plans managed by Computershare allow direct debit purchases right from your bank account. Please see PAD column on the DRIPLIST to know which ones. You could decide to mail in a cheque for $200 and shares would be bought for you, and right away those shares are included in the DRIP. Just like the DRIP, OCP purchases are Fractional Share Purchases. You can do these purchases whenever you want depending on the schedule of the plan and are completely optional.
$200.00 Optional Cash Purchase Share Price of $43.90
Your OCP would buy 4.555 Shares
Investing in a company without a Share Purchase Plan (only a DRIP) is a waste of time unless you are starting out with 100 or more shares of a particular company or are planning on acquiring more shares by some other means.
Finally, all Canadian DRIPs are completely FREE! So you can reinvest and buy more for next to nothing! Compare this to discount brokers who charge anywhere from $5-$35 for each purchase. This means more of your money gets invested, and reinvested and compounded over time. Starting to get the picture? Do you wonder why big banks, mutual fund companies and investment dealers don't want you to know about them? All of your hard earned money gets invested and grows with NO FEES so nobody makes money off your back.
As you can see DRIPs/SPPs are intended for long-term shareholders who are looking for stable, dependable (Blue Chip) growth of their investments. As with all investments in stocks, there is a risk since the share price could go up or down. But the main idea for DRIPs/SPPs investors is to find companies who regularly pay a dividend, quarter after quarter, and increase that dividend at least once per year. Companies such as S&P keep track of which Canadian companies meet these criteria, called the S&P Canadian Dividend Aristocrats.
DRIPs/SPPs plans mentioned above are Company sponsored plans, managed by a Transfer Agent. These are "Traditional" DRIPs with you as a "Registered" shareholder.
Do not confuse these DRIPs/SPPs with a discount Broker's "Synthetic" DRIP See FAQ Question #10. In those cases, you are a "Non-Registered shareholder" or "Beneficial shareholder."
Did that answer your question about what are Dividend Reinvestment and Share Purchase Plans are? If anything didn't make sense, please Contact Us so we can clarify this page.