One of the strategies that some people employ to make money in the stock market is called “dividend capture.” While not exactly day trading, dividend capture is far from the “buy and hold” strategy that many advisors recommend.
I always wondered what would keep stock buyers from swooping in and buying a stock right before a dividend was about to be paid—–and that is when I discovered that it is a known method of stock buying that many people use. In essence, dividend capture means that you buy a stock just prior to its ex-dividend date. You hold the stock until that date, which qualifies you to receive the dividend. On or shortly after the ex-dividend date, you sell the stock. You need not hold a stock until the day the dividend is issued in order to receive that particular dividend.
The first requirement in practicing dividend capture is researching and finding stocks that pay a high dividend. When you find a candidate, you must look up the ex-dividend date. You must own the stock prior to this date.
It seems so simple, why doesn’t everyone do this? There are downsides to trading with this method. The single greatest risk is that soon after you purchase the stock, it plummets in price. In fact, share prices fall by the amount of the dividend, but often rebound so quickly that it is barely noticeable. A sudden loss for some other reason is the greater risk. If you must sell the stock at a loss, the dividend which you are expecting to receive may not be enough to cover that loss.
Trading fees also play a part in whether this trading method is practical. If you pay fees to buy and sell stocks, these amounts must be factored in as a cost in the equation. Tax consequences are another factor which can affect the real profit from a dividend capture (if you are trading outside of a non-taxable retirement account.)
Obviously, stocks with higher dividends would be more likely candidates for a dividend capture purchase. It also helps to have a fairly large sum to spend for this—-it is doubtful that buying twenty or thirty shares of a stock would yield enough of a dividend to make this kind of trade profitable. Of course, a larger purchase means greater risk.
I have not practiced dividend capture, although I have considered it. When I account for trading fees and my low tolerance for risk, I believe that this is not a trading method for me. I can see, however, that it is possible that money could be made if a skilled and knowledgeable investor were to trade using this strategy.
Personal trading experiences
Related article: http://voices.yahoo.com/a-newbie-takes-stock-market-10846229.html?cat=3