Normally, the ex-dividend date is two days before the record date. Since the dividend is so large, special rules apply. By Nasdaq's rules, when cash dividends (as opposed to dividends of shares) are 25% or greater, the ex-dividend date is the first business day following the payable date.
This drop in share price gives investors the opportunity to get in just below $20 a share. Around that price you get a one-year yield of more than 22%. That's higher than current leading high yielders American Capital
Special dividends can be interesting situations. This past September, for instance, shares of Diamond Hill
These dividends are also currently doubly attractive because at this moment, Republicans and Democrats are bickering over extending the Bush tax cuts. A vote is expected later today. Since the dividend is being paid before the end of the year, you are guaranteed the current beneficial tax rate on dividends as long as you hold the stock for 60 days.
optionsXpress isn't the only company to have recently announced paying out a special dividend. Other companies that announced special dividends recently that you can still buy into include:
While none of these are recommendations, they are a good place to look. Companies paying special dividends believe they will do well in the future, and by collecting the special dividend you have the opportunity to reinvest in the business at a lower price or keep the cash to invest when bad times come around.
Dan Dzombak recommends you read I Will Tell You How to Become Rich. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. His musings and articles he finds interesting can be found on his Twitter account: @DanDzombak.
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