Companies report the number of outstanding shares in any given period on their income statements. All publicly traded companies submit quarterly and annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission with this data, and the SEC kindly publishes it online in a public database. You will need to get a copy of the company in question's income statement from the SEC's database and do some quick math to find the number of outstanding shares after a stock dividend. Note that cash dividends do not affect the number of outstanding shares but stock dividends do.
Go to the SEC's online database, known as EDGAR (sec.gov).
Enter the company's name or ticker symbol in EDGAR's search box.
Select the most recent 10-Q or 10-K -- quarterly and annual reports, respectively -- from the list of results that EDGAR turns up. If EDGAR gives you the option, click on the "Interactive Data" button next to the 10-Q or 10-K. The data is not very interactive, but it is presented in a cleaner format than the full text of the report.
Find the income statement and go to the end, to the "Basic" entry directly under the "Weighted Average Common Shares Outstanding" heading. If the company issues cash dividends, this number is the number of outstanding company shares before and after the dividend.
Find the date that the company sent the stock dividend to shareholders. On the stock dividend payment date, the company issued new shares and sent them out to shareholders, increasing the number of shares in circulation. Companies publish dividend payment dates on their websites and many financial information services also list dividend dates on charts for companies.
Compare the payment date to the income statement's reporting date, which is listed at the top of the income statement. The income statement covers all transactions through that date. If the dividend payment date was before the report's date, the "Basic" entry already includes all new stock issued through the dividend. If the payment date was after the reporting date, go to Step 3.
Find the dividend amount. Companies announce the amount of dividend payments and the payment date at the same time; the dividend amount should be listed with the payment date information you found in Step 1. Companies express stock dividends as a percentage; for example, a 10 percent stock dividend means that shareholders will get .1 shares for each share they own, or one new share for every ten they own.
Multiply the number reported in the "Basic" entry by the dividend amount and then add the product to the number in the "Basic" entry to get the current number of outstanding shares. When a company issues a stock dividend, it increases outstanding shares by that amount. For example, if a company gives every stockholder 10 percent more shares, in aggregate it increases its total number of outstanding shares by 10 percent. If the company had 1,000,000 shares outstanding before the dividend, it now has 10 percent more, or 1,100,000.
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- "USA Today"; Making Money from Stock Dividends Takes a Little Time; Matt Krantz; September 2008
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