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LONDON -- With Easter approaching, it's a short week this week, so we'll take an early look at companies going ex-dividend after the long weekend. Whether you want to buy in time to be eligible for a company's dividend payment or you're looking for a bargain share price when the time has passed, it pays to know your target dates.
The FTSE 100 is currently offering an average dividend yield of about 3.1%, so that provides something of a benchmark against which to evaluate individual company payments. Here are three of those companies going ex-dividend in the week commencing April 1:
RSA Insurance (LSE: RSA )
RSA Insurance Group has its full-year ex-dividend date on the traditional Wednesday, April 3, and those on the company's share register when the market opens that day will be eligible to receive a final dividend payment of 3.9 pence per share. The payout was slashed by a third from the same period last year, with Aviva similarly cutting its dividend.
But last year's total of 7.3 pence per share still represents a yield of 6.2% on today's share price of 118 pence -- albeit a price that slumped after the cut was announced.
Standard Life (LSE: SL )
On the same day, Standard Life will go ex-dividend -- in this case, relating to a final dividend of 9.8 pence per share. Unlike RSA, Standard Life lifted its full-year payment to 14.7 pence per share, though the yield is lower, amounting to a more modest 4%.
For the year to December 2013, current forecasts suggest a total dividend of 15.7 pence per share from Standard Life, which would provide yield of 4.2% on the current share price of 372 pence.
Pearson (LSE: PSON ) (NYSE: PSO )
Moving away from the insurance sector, Pearson also has its final ex-dividend date on Wednesday. Again, it's a final dividend, this time amounting to 30 pence per share. The publisher of the Financial Times and owner of Penguin Books enjoyed a 5% rise in sales for the year to December 2012, enabling it to lift its total dividend for the year to 45 pence -- that's a yield of 3.8% at today's share price of 1,179 pence.
And even though earnings are forecast to fall slightly for this year, there's a rise in the dividend to 47 pence currently being forecast, taking the yield to 4% for December 2013.
Dividends like these can add nicely to your investment returns -- they can be spent or reinvested, according to your needs. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.