A follow-on to yesterday's post about Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) is another perhaps confusing characteristic regarding distributions and reinvestments. As the blue highlighted area of this table shows for the Canadian iShares ETFs, in 2006 there were both cash distributions and reinvested distributions paid on a number of the ETFs. The cash distributions are actually paid out to the owners of each ETF at the end of each quarter just like dividends of any other company stock (with shareholders of record date for eligibility etc). An iShares press release gives the amounts for the 2007 March end quarter. For buy and hold investors like me, I don't need the cash/dividend to pay everyday expenses and I would rather that all the money be reinvested with the least cost and effort. Unlike many companies which have Dividend Reinvestment Programs (DRIP) that allow any dividends paid out to be automatically used to buy extra shares without brokerage fees, iShares cannot do so itself with its cash distributions as it explains on this FAQ page, though it says that brokers might provide the service (and it seems that Canadian ShareOwner Investment Inc is one that will but mine - BMO Investorline - will not ... hint, hint).
Stingy Investor has a very handy page listing all the Canadian companies with DRIPs (and related things like Stock Purchase Plans) for those who are interested.