Ex-Dividend Alert: 3 Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Wednesday: WHF, GAIN, MMD

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.

Wednesday, Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 54 U.S. common stocks are scheduled to go ex-dividend. The dividend yields on these stocks range from 0% to 12.2%. All of these stocks can be found on our stocks going ex-dividend section of our dividend calendar.

Highlighted Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Wednesday:

WhiteHorse Finance

Owners of WhiteHorse Finance (NASDAQ: WHF) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 36 cents per share. At a price of $11.65 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 12.2%.

The average volume for WhiteHorse Finance has been 37,900 shares per day over the past 30 days. WhiteHorse Finance has a market cap of $175.0 million and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 23.6% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

Whitehorse Finance, LLC is a business development company. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.89.

TheStreet Ratings rates WhiteHorse Finance as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share. You can view the full WhiteHorse Finance Ratings Report now.

Gladstone Investment Corporation

Owners of Gladstone Investment Corporation (NASDAQ: GAIN) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 11 cents per share. At a price of $6.93 as of 4:00 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 10.3%.

The average volume for Gladstone Investment Corporation has been 111,800 shares per day over the past 30 days. Gladstone Investment Corporation has a market cap of $185.6 million and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 13.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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Gladstone Investment Corporation is a business development company specializing in buyouts. The company has a P/E ratio of 50.07.

TheStreet Ratings rates Gladstone Investment Corporation as a hold. Among the primary strengths of the company is its expanding profit margins over time. At the same time, however, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity. You can view the full Gladstone Investment Corporation Ratings Report now.

MainStay DefinedTerm Municipal Opps Fund

Owners of MainStay DefinedTerm Municipal Opps Fund (NYSE: MMD) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 10 cents per share. At a price of $17.99 as of 3:59 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 6.5%.

The average volume for MainStay DefinedTerm Municipal Opps Fund has been 107,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. MainStay DefinedTerm Municipal Opps Fund has a market cap of $494.9 million and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are up 14.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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

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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