Hoping to bag the record Medibank dividend? Here's what you need to do

Time is running out if you'd like to bank the ASX 200 healthcare stock's largest-ever dividend.

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Last week, we covered the latest earnings results from Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL) shares.

As we went through at the time, Medibank had some fairly positive numbers to showcase last Thursday.

The ASX 200 private health insurance giant reported a 3.3% rise in revenues to $4.02 billion. Underlying profit after tax rose by 16.3% to $262.5 million, while net profit after tax (NPAT) was up 104.8% to $491.9 million. Those figures were greatly assisted by a 49.6% increase in Medibank's net investment income to $83.6 million.

Investors didn't seem to like what they saw though. Since the day these announcements were made public, Medibank shares have fallen by more than 5%.

That's despite the company declaring a fully franked interim dividend of 7.2 cents per share for 2024.

Everything you need to know about Medibank's upsized dividend

This was a fairly big announcement. For one, this dividend represents a healthy 14.3% rise over last year's equivalent interim payout of 6.3 cents per share. But it also happens to be the largest interim dividend that the company has ever paid out.

As we've already touched on, last year's interim dividend was worth 6.3 cents per share. 2022's payment came in at 6.1 cents.

Together with October's final dividend of 8.3 cents per share (also fully franked), Medibank's full-year dividends will now stretch from 14.6 cents per share to 15.5 cents.

However, if any investors out there who don't already own Medibank shares wish to receive this latest, upsized dividend, they are fast running out of time That's because Medibank shares are scheduled to trade ex-dividend this Thursday 29 February.

An ex-dividend date is when new investors in a company with an upcoming dividend are cut off from eligibility for the said dividend. So put another way, anyone who owns Medibank shares as of market close tomorrow is eligible to receive this Medibank dividend. But anyone who buys shares from Thursday onwards misses out.

As such, expect to see a significant drop in Medibank shares on Thursday morning, reflecting this inherent loss of value.

Dividend payday for those eligible Medibank shareholders will then roll around on 20 March next month.

Medibank is not currently running a dividend reinvestment plan (DRP). So investors have no alternative but to receive the traditional cash dividend payment.

Right now, Medibank shares are trading on a dividend yield of 4.25%, or 6.07% grossed-up with those full franking credits.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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