Q: How can I tell if a company pays a dividend?
--Clara Gray, Richmond, Va.
A: The fastest way is to look in the newspaper's stock listings. In The Times, for example, a stock's annual dividend, if any, will be listed next to the stock name or abbreviation. Ford Motor Co., for example, is "FordM 1.68" in The Times' listings. That indicates that Ford's current annual dividend is $1.68 a share.
The next important figure is the dividend yield, which The Times shows for New York Stock Exchange issues. The dividend yield is simply the current annual dividend divided by the current share price. Thus, Ford's current dividend yield is 3.5%. To track how often a company has raised its dividend, your best bet is to get the company's annual report and study the dividend history.
Q: I'm considering investing in mutual funds, even though you guys don't like them. What's this "NAV" I see in listings of funds?
--Harlene Morrow, Austin, Texas
A: NAV stands for "net asset value" and is the value of one share of the fund. Since mutual funds are composed of up to hundreds of different stocks, this number can't easily be quoted every minute. Most fund NAVs are calculated daily, after market close. The value of the stocks in the portfolio is totaled, expenses are subtracted and the result is divided by the number of outstanding shares. If the Imelda Marcos Shoe Sector Fund has net assets of $900 million and 90 million shares, its NAV is $10. The price of a no-load fund is its NAV; a load fund's price is its NAV plus the sales load.