A taxable payment declared by a company’s board of directors and given to its shareholders out of the company’scurrent or retained earnings, usually quarterly. Dividends are usually given as cash (cash dividend), but they can alsotake the form of stock (stock dividend) or other property. Dividends provide an incentive to own stock in stablecompanies even if they are not experiencing much growth. Companies are not required to pay dividends. The companies that offer dividends are most often companies that have progressed beyond the growth phase, and no longer benefit sufficiently by reinvesting their profits, so they usually choose to pay them out to their shareholders.also called payout.