Thursday, Thursday, January 28, 2016, 34 U.S. common stocks are scheduled to go ex-dividend. The dividend yields on these stocks range from 0.5% to 45.7%. All of these stocks can be found on our

stocks going ex-dividend

section of our

dividend calendar

.

Highlighted Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Thursday:

Vanguard Natural Resources

Owners of

Vanguard Natural Resources

(NASDAQ:

VNRAP

) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 16 cents per share. At a price of $7.51 as of 3:59 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 27.4%.

The average volume for Vanguard Natural Resources has been 29,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Vanguard Natural Resources has a market cap of $18.4 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 32.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Monday.

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Enerplus

Owners of

Enerplus

(NYSE:

ERF

) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 2 cents per share. At a price of $2.74 as of 9:37 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 10.1%.

The average volume for Enerplus has been 1.9 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Enerplus has a market cap of $505.9 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are down 19.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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Enerplus Corporation, together with subsidiaries, engages in the exploration and development of crude oil and natural gas in the United States and Canada.

TheStreet Ratings rates

Enerplus

TheStreet Recommends

as a

sell

. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally high debt management risk and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself. You can view the full

Enerplus Ratings Report

now.

Washington Federal

Owners of

Washington Federal

(NASDAQ:

WAFD

) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 14 cents per share. At a price of $20.82 as of 9:37 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2.8%.

The average volume for Washington Federal has been 835,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. Washington Federal has a market cap of $1.9 billion and is part of the banking industry. Shares are down 12% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

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Washington Federal, Inc. operates as the bank holding company for Washington Federal, National Association that provides financial services in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.18.

TheStreet Ratings rates

Washington Federal

as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, solid stock price performance, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results. You can view the full

Washington Federal Ratings Report

now.

More About Dividends:

One benefit of owning a stock is the potential that you will be paid a dividend. The distribution of dividend payments is another way for a company to share its profit with you. A dividend means that the company pays you a certain amount of money, either as a one-time payment or more commonly on a quarterly basis, for each share of stock you own.

Many times, dividends come at the expense of greater price appreciation, because the company is distributing its profits to shareholders rather than reinvesting the profits back into the growth of the company. However, companies that pay dividends can be very attractive to investors when they offer a steady stream of income. There are some important terms and dates an investor should be familiar with before purchasing any dividend-paying companies. Let's work through an example to help better explain some of these terms:

On March 1, ABC Widget Company has decided that because it holds excess cash and lacks investment opportunities, it would like to reward shareholders with a regular quarterly dividend payment. The date for this particular announcement is known as the declaration date. It is on this date that the company announces the specific dividend payment along with the holder-of-record date (aka record date) and the payment date. The company announces that a dividend payment of 25 cents per share will be payable March 31, 2012 (the payment date) to all shareholders of record at the close of business on March 16, 2012 (holder-of-record date). What does this all mean? Well the short story is that the company looks at its records on March 16 and anyone listed on the books as an owner of ABC Widget company will be eligible for the dividend payment (on March 31).

The one other important term to remember is the ex-dividend date. The ex-dividend date (typically two trading days before the holder-of-record date for U.S. securities) is the day in which a company begins trading without the dividend. In order to have a claim on a dividend, shares must be purchased no later than the last business day before the ex-dividend date. A company trading ex-dividend will have the upcoming dividend subtracted from the share price at the start of the trading day. Many times, the price of a stock will increase in anticipation of the upcoming dividend as the ex-dividend date approaches, yet will fall back by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date.