Tuesday's Ex-Dividends To Watch: RCII, TMK, SYY, BMY

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 7 U.S. common stocks are scheduled to go ex-dividend. The dividend yields on these stocks range from 0.9% to 3.2%. All of these stocks can be found on our stocks going ex-dividend section of our dividend calendar.

Highlighted Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Tuesday:

Rent-A-Center

Owners of Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ: RCII) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 23 cents per share. At a price of $33.65 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2.8%.

The average volume for Rent-A-Center has been 609,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Rent-A-Center has a market cap of $1.8 billion and is part of the specialty retail industry. Shares are down 2.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Rent-A-Center, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, leases household durable goods to customers on a rent-to-own basis. It operates in four segments: Core U.S., RAC Acceptance, International, and ColorTyme. The company has a P/E ratio of 11.59.

TheStreet Ratings rates Rent-A-Center as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. You can view the full Rent-A-Center Ratings Report now.

Torchmark Corporation

Owners of Torchmark Corporation (NYSE: TMK) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 17 cents per share. At a price of $78.24 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 0.9%.

The average volume for Torchmark Corporation has been 439,700 shares per day over the past 30 days. Torchmark Corporation has a market cap of $7.1 billion and is part of the insurance industry. Shares are up 52% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Torchmark Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides various life and health insurance products, and annuities in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. The company operates in three segments: Life Insurance, Health Insurance, and Annuities. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.76.

TheStreet Ratings rates Torchmark Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins. You can view the full Torchmark Corporation Ratings Report now.

Sysco Corporation

Owners of Sysco Corporation (NYSE: SYY) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 29 cents per share. At a price of $36.82 as of 4:01 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 3.2%.

The average volume for Sysco Corporation has been 4.9 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Sysco Corporation has a market cap of $21.2 billion and is part of the wholesale industry. Shares are up 15.4% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Sysco Corporation, through its subsidiaries, markets and distributes a range of food and related products primarily to the foodservice or food-away-from-home industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 21.97.

TheStreet Ratings rates Sysco Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins. You can view the full Sysco Corporation Ratings Report now.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

Owners of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) shares as of market close today will be eligible for a dividend of 36 cents per share. At a price of $53.15 as of 4:01 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 2.7%.

The average volume for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company has been 7.2 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company has a market cap of $87.6 billion and is part of the drugs industry. Shares are up 64.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, a biopharmaceutical company, discovers, develops, licenses, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells biopharmaceutical products that help patients prevail over serious diseases worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 32.05.

TheStreet Ratings rates Bristol-Myers Squibb Company as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. You can view the full Bristol-Myers Squibb Company 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.

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