What is a Scrip Dividend?

Scrip Dividend

Share This...

Scrip Dividend

A scrip dividend, also known as a “stock dividend” in some regions, is a form of dividend where a company issues new shares to its shareholders instead of paying a cash dividend. Essentially, it’s a way for a company to distribute profits back to its shareholders in the form of additional shares rather than cash.

Here are some key points to understand about scrip dividends:

  • Liquidity Management: Companies may opt for scrip dividends when they want to retain cash for business operations, investments, or debt management. By issuing additional shares instead of cash, the company can maintain liquidity.
  • Shareholder Choice: Sometimes, companies offer shareholders the choice between receiving a cash dividend or a scrip dividend. Shareholders might opt for the latter if they wish to increase their ownership stake without buying new shares on the open market.
  • Capitalization: When a scrip dividend is issued, it increases the number of shares outstanding, which can dilute the earnings per share if the company’s profitability doesn’t increase proportionally. However, the total market capitalization of the company remains largely unchanged immediately after the issuance, since the overall value is simply spread over more shares.
  • Tax Implications: The tax treatment of scrip dividends can vary by jurisdiction. In some regions, they may be treated differently than cash dividends for tax purposes. Shareholders might incur capital gains tax when they eventually sell the additional shares they receive.
  • Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs): While a DRIP is not the same as a scrip dividend, the concept is somewhat similar. In a DRIP, shareholders can choose to have their cash dividends automatically reinvested to purchase additional shares of the company, often without incurring brokerage fees.

Example of a Scrip Dividend

Let’s delve into a fictional scenario involving a company offering a scrip dividend to its shareholders.

XYZ Corporation is a growing tech company that has been performing well in the market. They’ve made substantial profits this year, but they also see an opportunity to acquire a smaller startup with technology complementary to their portfolio. To make the acquisition smoothly, they want to preserve as much cash as possible.

Given these circumstances, instead of paying out a cash dividend, the board of XYZ Corporation decides to offer a scrip dividend to its shareholders.


XYZ Corporation announces that instead of the usual cash dividend of $2 per share, they will be offering a 4% scrip dividend to all shareholders.


Let’s consider two shareholders of XYZ Corporation:

  • John: He owns 500 shares of XYZ Corporation.
  • Mia: She owns 1,000 shares of XYZ Corporation.

With the 4% scrip dividend:

  • John would receive: 4% of 500 = 20 additional shares. So, his total shares after the scrip dividend would be 520.
  • Mia would receive: 4% of 1,000 = 40 additional shares. This would increase her total shares to 1,040.


XYZ Corporation successfully retains its cash for the impending acquisition, while its shareholders increase their stake in the company, albeit with a potential dilution in earnings per share, as there are now more shares outstanding. Both John and Mia have a higher number of shares, but the value of the company is now spread over a larger number of shares.

Post-Scenario Reflection:

In a subsequent year, if XYZ Corporation’s acquisition proves to be fruitful and increases the company’s profits significantly, the dilution might be justified, leading to an appreciation in the share price. However, if the acquisition does not pan out as expected, the company might face challenges, and shareholders could experience a decrease in value.

It’s crucial for shareholders like John and Mia to understand the company’s strategic reasons for offering a scrip dividend and evaluate its future prospects before making further investment decisions.

Other Posts You'll Like...

Want to Pass as Fast as Possible?

(and avoid failing sections?)

Watch one of our free "Study Hacks" trainings for a free walkthrough of the SuperfastCPA study methods that have helped so many candidates pass their sections faster and avoid failing scores...