The Power of Dividend Reinvestment

August 14, 2023
Reinvesting dividends can improve your returns.

A stock's price return may get all the attention, but it's a stock's total return—which includes reinvested dividends—that investors should really pay attention to.

For example, a hypothetical $100,000 investment made in 1990 in a fund tracking the S&P 500® Index would have been worth more than $2.1 million by the end of 2022 had dividends been reinvested—but only $1.1 million had they not.

"Reinvesting dividends is nearly effortless," says Steven Greiner, managing director of Schwab Equity Ratings® at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. "Once you set it up—which generally involves simply ticking a box—there's nothing more to do but sit back and let compounding work its magic. Be aware, however, that companies can reduce or stop paying dividends."

Dividends vs. total returns

Reinvesting dividends can boost your overall returns; however, if it's dividends alone you're after, you might consider taking a sector-by-sector approach. Over the past two decades, some of the highest payers, such as the communication services sector, have generated the lowest total returns, whereas some of the lowest payers, like information technology, have generated the highest total returns.

Click to expand the image.

$100,000 invested in the S&P 500 in 1990 would be worth $2,155,458 by the end of 2022 with dividends reinvested versus $1,076,981 if not. Sectors that pay the lowest dividends often have higher total 10-year returns than those with the highest dividends.

Sources: Charles Schwab (top chart). Bloomberg (bottom chart).

Top chart: Data from 01/01/1990 through 12/31/2022. The example is hypothetical and provided for illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to represent a specific investment product, and the example does not reflect the effects of expenses, taxes, or fees, and if it had, performance would have been substantially lower. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Bottom chart: Data from 12/31/2002 through 12/31/2022. Image is for illustrative purposes only. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.

Indexes are unmanaged, do not incur management fees, costs, and expenses and cannot be invested in directly. For more information on indexes please see

There are risks associated with investing in dividend paying stocks, including but not limited to the risk that stocks may reduce or stop paying dividends.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and the opinions presented cannot be viewed as an indicator of future performance.

Investing involves risk including loss of principal. 

Commodity-related products carry a high level of risk and are not suitable for all investors. Commodity-related products may be extremely volatile, illiquid and can be significantly affected by underlying commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions.

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.