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Dividend policy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dividend policy is concerned with financial policies regarding paying cash dividend in the present or paying an increased dividend at a later stage. Whether to issue dividends, and what amount, is determined mainly on the basis of the company's unappropriated profit (excess cash) and influenced by the company's long-term earning power. When cash surplus exists and is not needed by the firm, then management is expected to pay out some or all of those surplus earnings in the form of cash dividends or to repurchase the company's stock through a share buyback program.

If there are no NPV positive opportunities, i.e. projects where returns exceed the hurdle rate, and excess cash surplus is not needed, then – finance theory suggests – management should return some or all of the excess cash to shareholders as dividends. This is the general case, however there are exceptions. For example, shareholders of a "growth stock", expect that the company will, almost by definition, retain most of the excess earnings so as to fund future growth internally. By with holding current dividend payments to shareholders, managers of growth companies are hoping that dividend payments will be increased proportionality higher in the future, to offset the retainment of current earnings and the internal financing of present investment projects.

Management must also choose the form of the dividend distribution, generally as cash dividends or via a share buyback. Various factors may be taken into consideration: where shareholders must pay tax on dividends, firms may elect to retain earnings or to perform a stock buyback, in both cases increasing the value of shares outstanding. Alternatively, some companies will pay "dividends" from stock rather than in cash; see Corporate action. Financial theory suggests that the dividend policy should be set based upon the type of company and what management determines is the best use of those dividend resources for the firm to its shareholders. As a general rule, shareholders of growth companies would prefer managers to have a share buyback program, whereas shareholders of value or secondary stocks would prefer the management of these companies to payout surplus earnings in the form of cash dividends.

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  • ✪ Dividend Policy in 19 min: Cash Dividends for Dividend Payout Ratio
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Dividend Policy in 19 min: Cash Dividends for Dividend Payout Ratio Hello and welcome back again to The topic for this video is Dividend Policy and Dividend Payout with regard to Cash Dividends. Remember you can always go back to Please note this video shows an example where the company uses cash to pay dividends to the owners or shareholders or stockholders. There are also other ways a company base dividends its shareholders such as by giving free new shares of stock to its shareholders or by the company simply buying back its own shares in the general stock market and this slightly more complicated but it’s still easy. I explained that in my other videos at, Dividend Policy and Dividend Payout Stock Repurchase and Dividend Policy regarding Stock Splits or Stock Dividends. Please don’t be confused about these different ways of giving dividends to your stockholders. So regarding cash dividends, let’s start with a cash question. Why would you want to own part of a company? Well, because the company can earn more money but so what? Who cares if your company earns money? Well it’s the company which earns money and it’s not you, right? Why would you want the company to earn money? Because in theory, after a company earns profits or money, it pays all of that money to you, in theory of course in real life they don’t pay the whole thing. They keep some of the money for themselves, in the company, so that they can use it for expansions and stuff like that. But in theory, after a company earns profits and money, it pays that money to owners like you in the form of dividends. It’s called dividends. It’s just a name. Dividend is just name for money that the company pays to you with their profits because you’re one of the owners of the company. It’s your share of their profits. That’s good, right? It sounds great. You own part of the company, he earns money or earns profit, and it shares the profit with the owners such as you. But in real life, some companies are stingy. They keep one hundred percent of the money or the profits inside the company and they pay zero percent of the money to owners and shareholders or stockholders like you. That’s horrible, right? It sounds horrible. However, other companies are generous. They might pay you one hundred percent of their profits to owners and shareholders and stockholders like you and keep only zero percent in the company. That’s great, right? The first case, it’s horrible; in the second case, it’s great or so you think but let’s see if that’s really true. Which company would you like to invest in and buy shares in: the stingy company or the generous company? Well of course, you’d like to buy shares into the generous company because whenever there’s a profit, they give it to owners such as you. Question is: are you sure if you would want to put your money in the generous company? Let’s take a look at this case right now. On Monday, I need to put some days of the week so that you can see what happens in time because different times you see different things, you’ll see in a while. So on Monday, Mr. BOB owns ABC Company which has one hundred dollar cash and two hundred dollars worth of equipment. The company’s worth has a total of three hundred dollars. That’s Bob over there. Let’s see. Monday, he owns his company which has one hundred cash and two hundred dollars worth of equipment. So on Monday, Bob has zero cash for himself in his own pocket, in Bob’s pocket; not in the company. This one hundred dollars cash is in the vault of the company. It is not in Bob’s pocket. On Monday, Bob has zero dollars cash in his own pocket but he owns a company worth three hundred dollars. Why is the company worth three hundred dollars? Because it has one hundred dollars of cash and the company also has two hundred dollars in equipment. So that’s why it’s three hundred dollars. What is Bob’s total wealth on Monday? It is three hundred dollars. Even if Bob has no cash, he owns a company worth three hundred dollars. Remember ABC Company has one hundred dollars cash. It’s full. On Tuesday, ABC pays its one hundred dollars cash to its owner Bob. Now the company has zero cash but it still has two hundred dollars of equipment. How much is the company worth now? Well, it’s now worth only two hundred dollars down from three hundred dollars because it had two hundred dollars worth of equipment plus one hundred dollars cash. Now, the company only has two hundred dollars in equipment. Now the company’s total worth is two hundred dollars. What happens on Tuesday? Bob now owns one hundred dollars cash. Where did Bob get this one hundred dollars cash? Well, because the company, ABC, paid one hundred dollars cash to Bob. So now Bob has one hundred dollars cash inside his pocket but his company, Bob’s company, is now worth only two hundred dollars. Why? Because the company which was worth three hundred dollars is now worth only two hundred dollars because the company already gave up, gave away its one hundred dollars cash to Bob. What is Bob’s new total wealth? It is still three hundred dollars. You see? By the way, before anything else, this assumes that the shares of stock are easily converted to cash like it can be sold in the stock market. In this case, the company is worth two hundred dollars if Bob wants to have two hundred dollars instead of the company, Bob can easily go to the stock market and convert or change his company to cash in the stock market. Anyway, the point is even if the company’s generous and paid its dividends, it still doesn’t help Bob in the end. His worth, his net worth changed from three hundred dollars to still three hundred dollars even if the company paid him a cash dividend of one hundred because when the company paid him a cash dividend of one hundred, the company’s own value went down from three hundred to two hundred, and so now Bob’s holdings in the company are now of lower value. The conclusion is: it doesn’t matter whether a company pays cash dividends to its shareholders or not because it won’t affect the total wealth of the owners or shareholders or stockholders and that is if you believe this theory. There are different theories in finance and I’m discussing all of them one by one which are taken up in business school so that’s depending on the theory that your professor wants or you can answer it, and this is not only for business students. If you might be a stock investor and think that it’s better to invest in a company which pays higher dividends, you may be correct in real life but it’s almost good to think about this theory as well. Let’s go to the real world now. In the real world, some investors actually do prefer high-dividend stocks and yet other people prefer low-dividend stocks. Why is that? debbierojonan Page 1



Coming up with the dividend policy is challenging for the directors and financial manager of a company, because different investors have different views on present cash dividends and future capital gains. Another confusion that pops up is regarding the extent of effect of dividends on the share price. Due to this controversial nature of a dividend policy it is often called the dividend puzzle.

Various models have been developed to help firms analyse and evaluate the perfect dividend policy. There is no agreement between these schools of thought over the relationship between dividends and the value of the share or the wealth of the shareholders in other words.

One school consists of people like James E. Walter and Myron J. Gordon (see Gordon model), who believe that current cash dividends are less risky than future capital gains. Thus, they say that investors prefer those firms which pay regular dividends and such dividends affect the market price of the share. Another school linked to Modigliani and Miller holds that investors don't really choose between future gains and cash dividends.[1]

Relevance of dividend policy

Dividends paid by the firms are viewed positively both by the investors and the firms. The firms which do not pay dividends are rated in oppositely by investors thus affecting the share price. The people who support relevance of dividends clearly state that regular dividends reduce uncertainty of the shareholders i.e. the earnings of the firm is discounted at a lower rate, ke thereby increasing the market value. However, its exactly opposite in the case of increased uncertainty due to non-payment of dividends.

Two important models supporting dividend relevance are given by Walter and Gordon.

Walter's model

Walter's model shows the relevance of dividend policy and its bearing on the value of the share.

Assumptions of the Walter model

  1. Retained earnings are the only source of financing investments in the firm, there is no external finance involved.
  2. The cost of capital, k e and the rate of return on investment, r are constant i.e. even if new investments decisions are taken, the risks of the business remains same.
  3. The firm's life is endless i.e. there is no closing down.

Basically, the firm's decision to give or not give out dividends depends on whether it has enough opportunities to invest the retained earnings i.e. a strong relationship between investment and dividend decisions is considered.

Model description

Dividends paid to the shareholders are reinvested by the shareholder further, to get higher returns. This is referred to as the opportunity cost of the firm or the cost of capital, ke for the firm. Another situation where the firms do not pay out dividends, is when they invest the profits or retained earnings in profitable opportunities to earn returns on such investments. This rate of return r, for the firm must at least be equal to ke. If this happens then the returns of the firm is equal to the earnings of the shareholders if the dividends were paid. Thus, it's clear that if r, is more than the cost of capital ke, then the returns from investments is more than returns shareholders receive from further investments.

Walter's model says that if r<ke then the firm should distribute the profits in the form of dividends to give the shareholders higher returns. However, if r>ke then the investment opportunities reap better returns for the firm and thus, the firm should invest the retained earnings. The relationship between r and k are extremely important to determine the dividend policy. It decides whether the firm should have zero payout or 100% payout.

In a nutshell :

  • If r>ke, the firm should have zero payout and make investments.
  • If r<ke, the firm should have 100% payouts and no investment of retained earnings.
  • If r=ke, the firm is indifferent between dividends and investments.

Mathematical representation

Mandar Mathkar has given a mathematical model for the above made statements :



  • P = Market price of the share
  • D = Dividend per share
  • r = Rate of return on the firm's investments
  • ke = Cost of equity
  • E = Earnings per share'

The market price of the share consists of the sum total of:

  • the present value of an infinite stream of dividends
  • the present value of an infinite stream of returns on investments made from retained earnings.

Therefore, the market value of a share is the result of expected dividends and capital gains according to Walter.


Although the model provides a simple framework to explain the relationship between the market value of the share and the dividend policy, it has some unrealistic assumptions.

  1. The assumption of no external financing apart from retained earnings, for the firm make further investments is not really followed in the real world.
  2. The constant r and ke are seldom found in real life, because as and when a firm invests more the business risks change.

Gordon's Model

Myron J. Gordon
Myron J. Gordon

Myron J. Gordon has also supported dividend relevance and believes in regular dividends affecting the share price of the firm.[2]

The Assumptions of the Gordon model

Gordon's assumptions are similar to the ones given by Walter. However, there are two additional assumptions proposed by him :

  1. The product of retention ratio b and the rate of return r gives us the growth rate of the firm g.
  2. The cost of capital ke, is not only constant but greater than the growth rate i.e. ke>g.

Model description

Investors are risk averse and believe that incomes from dividends are certain rather than incomes from future capital gains, therefore they predict future capital gains to be risky propositions. They discount the future capital gains at a higher rate than the firm's earnings, thereby evaluating a higher value of the share. In short, when retention rate increases, they require a higher discounting rate. Gordon has given a model similar to Waltematical formula to determine price of the share.

Mathematical representation

The market prices of the share is calculated as follows:



  • P = Market price of the share
  • E = Earnings per share
  • b = Retention ratio (1 - payout ratio)
  • r = Rate of return on the firm's investments
  • ke = Cost of equity
  • br = Growth rate of the firm (g)

Therefore, the model shows a relationship between the payout ratio, rate of return, cost of capital and the market price of the share.

Conclusions on the Walter and Gordon Model

Gordon's ideas were similar to Walter's and therefore, the criticisms are also similar. Both of them clearly state the relationship between dividend policies and market value of the firm.

Capital structure substitution theory & dividends

The capital structure substitution theory (CSS)[3] describes the relationship between earnings, stock price and capital structure of public companies. The theory is based on one simple hypothesis: company managements manipulate capital structure such that earnings-per-share (EPS) are maximized. The resulting dynamic debt-equity target explains why some companies use dividends and others do not. When redistributing cash to shareholders, company managements can typically choose between dividends and share repurchases. But as dividends are in most cases taxed higher than capital gains, investors are expected to prefer capital gains. However, the CSS theory shows that for some companies share repurchases lead to a reduction in EPS. These companies typically prefer dividends over share repurchases.

Mathematical representation

From the CSS theory it can be derived that debt-free companies should prefer repurchases whereas companies with a debt-equity ratio larger than


should prefer dividends as a means to distribute cash to shareholders, where

  • D is the company’s total long term debt
  • is the company’s total equity
  • is the tax rate on capital gains
  • is the tax rate on dividends

Low valued, high leverage companies with limited investment opportunities and a high profitability use dividends as the preferred means to distribute cash to shareholders, as is documented by empirical research.[4]


The CSS theory provides more guidance on dividend policy to company managements than the Walter model and the Gordon model. It also reverses the traditional order of cause and effect by implying that company valuation ratios drive dividend policy, and not vice versa. The CSS theory does not have 'invisible' or 'hidden' parameters such as the equity risk premium, the discount rate, the expected growth rate or expected inflation. As a consequence the theory can be tested in an unambiguous way.

Irrelevance of dividend policy

Franco Modigliani
Franco Modigliani

The Modigliani and Miller school of thought believes that investors do not state any preference between current dividends and capital gains. They say that dividend policy is irrelevant and is not deterministic of the market value. Therefore, the shareholders are indifferent between the two types of dividends. All they want are high returns either in the form of dividends or in the form of re-investment of retained earnings by the firm. There are two conditions discussed in relation to this approach :

  • decisions regarding financing and investments are made and do not change with respect to the amounts of dividends received.
  • when an investor buys and sells shares without facing any transaction costs and firms issue shares without facing any floatation cost, it is termed as a perfect capital market.[5]

Two important theories discussed relating to the irrelevance approach, the residuals theory and the Modigliani and Miller approach.

Residuals theory of dividends

One of the assumptions of this theory is that external financing to re-invest is either not available, or that it is too costly to invest in any profitable opportunity. If the firm has good investment opportunity available then, they'll invest the retained earnings and reduce the dividends or give no dividends at all. If no such opportunity exists, the firm will pay out dividends.

If a firm has to issue securities to finance an investment, the existence of flotation costs needs a larger amount of securities to be issued. Therefore, the pay out of dividends depend on whether any profits are left after the financing of proposed investments as flotation costs increases the amount of profits used. Deciding how much dividends to be paid is not the concern here, in fact the firm has to decide how much profits to be retained and the rest can then be distributed as dividends. This is the theory of Residuals, where dividends are residuals from the profits after serving proposed investments.[6]

This residual decision is distributed in three steps:

  • evaluating the available investment opportunities to determine capital expenditures.
  • evaluating the amount of equity finance that would be needed for the investment, basically having an optimum finance mix.
  • cost of retained earnings<cost of new equity capital, thus the retained profits are used to finance investments. If there is a surplus after the financing then there is distribution of dividends.

Extension of the theory

The dividend policy strongly depends on two things:

  • investment opportunities available to the company
  • amount of internally retained and generated funds which lead to dividend distribution if all possible investments have been financed.

The dividend policy of such a kind is a passive one, and doesn't influence market price. the dividends also fluctuate every year because of different investment opportunities every year. However, it doesn't really affect the shareholders as they get compensated in the form of future capital gains.


The firm paying out dividends is obviously generating incomes for an investor, however even if the firm takes some investment opportunity then the incomes of the investors rise at a later stage due to this profitable investment.

Modigliani-Miller theorem

The Modigliani–Miller theorem states that the division of retained earnings between new investment and dividends do not influence the value of the firm. It is the investment pattern and consequently the earnings of the firm which affect the share price or the value of the firm.[7]

Assumptions of the MM theorem

The MM approach has taken into consideration the following assumptions:

  1. There is a rational behavior by the investors and there exists perfect capital markets.
  2. Investors have free information available for them.
  3. No time lag and transaction costs exist.
  4. Securities can be split into any parts i.e. they are divisible
  5. No taxes and floatation costs.
  6. Capital markets are perfectly efficient(Exists)
  7. The investment decisions are taken firmly and the profits are therefore known with certainty. The dividend policy does not affect these decisions.
  8. There is perfect certainty of future profits of firm

Model description

The dividend irrelevancy in this model exists because shareholders are indifferent between paying out dividends and investing retained earnings in new opportunities. The firm finances opportunities either through retained earnings or by issuing new shares to raise capital. The amount used up in paying out dividends is replaced by the new capital raised through issuing shares. This will affect the value of the firm in an opposite way. The increase in the value because of the dividends will be offset by the decrease in the value for new capital raising. step1: Find out P1 i.e.neaxt year price of the share

            P0 = D1 + P1 / 1+Re

step2: No of shares to be issued

        mP1 = I-(E-D1)

step3: Value of firm

       nP0 = (n+m)P1-I+E / Re

See also

External links


  1. ^ Rustagi, Dr.R.P. (2010-09-01). Financial Management. Taxmann Publications (P.) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-7194-786-7.
  2. ^ Vinod Kothari. "Dividend Policy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  3. ^ Timmer, Jan (2011). "Understanding the Fed Model, Capital Structure, and then Some". SSRN 1322703.
  4. ^ Fama, E.F.; French, K.R. (April 2001). "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics or Lower Propensity to Pay". Journal of Financial Economics. 60: 3–43. doi:10.1016/s0304-405x(01)00038-1. SSRN 203092.
  5. ^ Dividend Policy Archived December 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Robert H. Smith School of Business.
  6. ^ Sumon S P Lee, Dividend Policy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  7. ^ CA Magni, Relevance or irrelevance of retention for dividend policy irrelevance, Berkeley Mathemarketics Group
This page was last edited on 15 February 2019, at 13:56
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