A corporate distribution to shareholders declared out of profits, at the discretion of the directors of the corporation, which is paid in the form of shares of stock, as opposed to money, and increases the number of shares.
When a corporation declares a stock dividend, it adds undivided profits, which cannot be used to pay dividends, to the capital invested in the corporation, to reflect the additional shares it is issuing. The stockholder's increased number of shares represent the same proportion of the value of the company as the stockholder originally held (that is, the stockholder owns the same percentage of the corporation as prior to the declaration of the stock dividend); however, the cash value of an individual share is not reduced.
Shares issued as stock dividends are evidence that additional assets have been added to the capital. The value of the shares of a corporation often, but not always, increases following a stock dividend. A stock dividend is actually a part of corporation bookkeeping.
A stock split is different from a stock dividend in that no adjustment is made to the capital; instead, the number of shares representing the capital increase. The cash value of an individual share, therefore, decreases in proportion to the size of the stock split.