# The Difference Between a Dividend Rate vs. APY

**Allen Lee**| Updated on August 28, 2020

Raw information isn't very useful. As a result, it is very common for interested parties to convert it into a more comprehensible format before making use of it for their purposes. One excellent example would be metrics, which are quantitative measurements that can provide insight into an organization's financial position and financial performance. There is a wide range of metrics that see use in a wide range of fields. For example, GDP is a metric that provides insight into the size of a country's economy by adding up the market value of all of the goods and services produced within its borders within a specific period of time. Likewise, net income is a metric that provides insight into a business's financial performance over a specific period of time by deducting the expenses from the revenues earned by incurring those expenses. Thanks to this, it should come as no surprise to learn that there are numerous metrics for evaluating investments, with dividend-paying stocks being no exception to this rule.

## What Is the Dividend Rate?

For starters, there is the dividend rate. It is a metric in its own right. However, the dividend rate is sometimes used in an interchangeable manner with dividend yield, meaning that interested individuals must be sure of which one is being discussed at any given moment.

The dividend rate can be described as an estimate of the dividend-only return on the dividend-paying stock on an annual basis. As a result, its calculation starts with multiplying the most recent regular dividend payment with the number of times that regular dividend payments are paid out on an annual basis. After which, this product is added to any special dividend payments that have been paid out in the year so far to get an estimate of the total dividends that will be paid out on the dividend-paying stock in the same year. To use an example, suppose that a corporation pays quarterly dividends. Furthermore, suppose that its most recent quarterly dividend was $2. Under those circumstances, interested individuals should multiply the $2 by four to get $8. If the corporation hasn't paid any special dividends, its dividend rate would be $8. However, if the corporation has paid special dividends of $4, its dividend rate would be $12.

Moving on, the calculation of the dividend yield isn't that much more complicated than the calculation of the dividend rate. In short, it is supposed to be the percentage of the stock price that is paid out in the form of dividends on an annual basis. As such, dividend yield is calculated by dividing the annual dividend by the share price of the dividend-paying stock. After which, the quotient is converted into percentage form. Special dividends are special. Thanks to that, they tend not to be included in the calculation for dividend yield, though there are exceptions to this rule. Suppose that a corporation pays $1 dividend on a quarterly basis. That $1 dividend would be $4 on an annual basis. If the dividend-paying stock's share price is $40, its dividend yield would be 10 percent. In contrast, if the dividend-paying stock's share price is $80, its dividend yield would be 5 percent.

## What Is the Annual Percentage Yield?

Meanwhile, the annual percentage yield isn't a metric specifically used for dividend-paying stocks. Instead, it can be used for a very wide range of investments that can be found out there, with dividend-paying stocks being just a single example.

In any case, the annual percentage yield can be considered the annual rate of return on an investment while taking compound interest rather than simple interest into account. As such, it can be calculated as (1 + the interest rate per period) ^ number of periods minus 1. It is interesting to note that it can take some effort to calculate the interest rate per period. For instance, interested individuals might have the stated annual interest rate and nothing but the stated annual interest rate, in which case, they would have to divide the stated annual interest rate by the number of compounding periods to get the interest rate per period.

To use another example, consider an investment with a stated annual interest rate of 12 percent that is compounded on a monthly basis. In that scenario, the calculation would be (1 + 0.01) ^ 12 - 1, thus resulting in approximately 12.68 percent. In contrast, if the stated annual interest rate of 12 percent is compounded on a quarterly basis, the calculation would be (1 + 0.03) ^ 4 - 1, thus resulting in approximately 12.55 percentage. Of course, once interested individuals have the annual percentage yield, they can use it to figure out what they will get out of their investment by the end of the year with relative ease.

## How Does the Dividend Rate Differ From the Annual Percentage Yield?

By this point, it should be clear that both the dividend rate and the dividend yield are very different from the annual percentage yield. For starters, they are meant for making sense of the dividends for dividend-paying stocks. In contrast, the annual percentage yield is used for a much wider range of investments.

Moving on, the dividend rate is very simple and straightforward. However, it is nonetheless capable of providing useful insight into what interested individuals can expect from a particular dividend-paying stock when it comes to dividends. Something that can be very useful for people who are thinking about picking up some dividend-paying stocks so that they can get a regular income stream while still benefiting from the greater growth potential of stocks. Dividend yield doesn't conflict with dividend rate. Instead, it can serve to enhance its usefulness. After all, the dividend reveals information about the efficiency with which interested individuals can earn dividends on a dividend-paying stock. As for the annual percentage yield, it is useful for getting a better picture of the comprehensive situation because it includes not just dividends but also other potential sources of return when figuring out the efficiency with which that return is earned. Due to that, these three metrics are best used in combination with one another so that the insight offered by one can be shored up by the insight offered by the other two.

#### Written by Allen Lee

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