Dividend payout ratio

Dividend payout ratio is the fraction of net income a firm pays to its stockholders in dividends:

mbox{Dividend payout ratio}=frac{mbox{Dividends}}{mbox{Net Income for the same period}}

The part of the earnings not paid to investors is left for investment to provide for future earnings growth. Investors seeking high current income and limited capital growth prefer companies with high Dividend payout ratio. However investors seeking capital growth may prefer lower payout ratio because capital gains are taxed at a lower rate. High growth firms in early life generally have low or zero payout ratios. As they mature, they tend to return more of the earnings back to investors. Note that dividend payout ratio is a recipocate ratio to dividend cover, which is calculated as EPS/DPS.

The dividend yield is given by

begin{array}{lcl} mbox{Current Dividend Yield} & = & frac{mbox{Most Recent Full-Year Dividend}}{mbox{Current Share Price}} & = & frac{mbox{Dividend payout ratio}times mbox{Most Recent Full-Year earnings per share}}{mbox{Current Share Price}} end{array}

Impact of buybacks

Some companies chose stock buybacks as an alternative to dividends, in such cases this ratio becomes less meaningful. One way to adapt it using an augmented payout ratio:

Augmented Payout Ratio = (Dividends + Buybacks)/ Net Income for the same period

Historic Data

The data for S&P 500 is taken from . The payout rate has gradually declined form 90% of operating earnings in 1940s to about 30% in recent years.

DecadePrice % Dividend Total Dividends as % Average
Change Contribution Return of Total Return Payout
1930s -41.90% 56.00% 14.10% N/A 90.10%
1940s 34.8 100.3 135.1 74.20% 59.4
1950s 256.7 180 436.7 41.2 54.6
1960s 53.7 54.2 107.9 50.2 56
1970s 17.2 59.1 76.3 77.5 45.5
1980s 227.4 143.1 370.5 38.6 48.6
1990s 315.7 95.5 411.2 23.2 47.6
2000s -15 8.6 -6.4 N/A 32.3
Average 106.10% 87.10% 193.20% 50.80% 54.30%

For smaller growth companies, the average payout ratio can be as low as 10%

See also


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