Dividend Watch: 3 Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Monday: VNRAP, VNR, AFSI

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.

Monday, Monday, June 29, 2015, 29 U.S. common stocks are scheduled to go ex-dividend. The dividend yields on these stocks range from 0.8% to 12%. All of these stocks can be found on our stocks going ex-dividend section of our dividend calendar.

Highlighted Stocks Going Ex-Dividend Monday:

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 $25.10 as of 3:59 p.m. ET, the dividend yield is 8%.

The average volume for Vanguard Natural Resources has been 11,000 shares per day over the past 30 days. Vanguard Natural Resources has a market cap of $63.4 million and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 9.8% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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Vanguard Natural Resources

Owners of Vanguard Natural Resources (NASDAQ: VNR) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 12 cents per share. At a price of $15.43 as of 9:37 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 9.1%.

The average volume for Vanguard Natural Resources has been 636,200 shares per day over the past 30 days. Vanguard Natural Resources has a market cap of $1.3 billion and is part of the energy industry. Shares are up 0.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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Vanguard Natural Resources, LLC, through its subsidiaries, acquires and develops oil and natural gas properties in the United States.

TheStreet Ratings rates Vanguard Natural Resources as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its feeble growth in its earnings per share, deteriorating net income, generally high debt management risk, disappointing return on equity and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself. You can view the full Vanguard Natural Resources Ratings Report now.

AmTrust Financial Services

Owners of AmTrust Financial Services (NASDAQ: AFSI) shares, as of market close today, will be eligible for a dividend of 25 cents per share. At a price of $64.01 as of 9:35 a.m. ET, the dividend yield is 1.6%.

The average volume for AmTrust Financial Services has been 375,300 shares per day over the past 30 days. AmTrust Financial Services has a market cap of $5.3 billion and is part of the insurance industry. Shares are up 13.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., through its subsidiaries, underwrites and provides property and casualty insurance in the United States and internationally. It operates in three segments: Small Commercial Business, Specialty Risk and Extended Warranty, and Specialty Program. The company has a P/E ratio of 10.73.

TheStreet Ratings rates AmTrust Financial Services as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance and impressive record of earnings per share growth. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. You can view the full AmTrust Financial Services 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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