Stability of dividend policy. There may be three types of dividend policy (
Strict or Conservative dividend Policy which envisages the retention of profits on the cost of dividend pay-out. It helps in strengthening the financial position of the company;
- Lenient Dividend Policy which views the payment of dividend at the maximum rate possible taking in view the current earing of the company. Under such policy company retains the minimum possible earnings; )
- Stable Dividend Policy suggests a mid-way of the above two views. Under this policy, stable or almost stable rate of dividend is maintained.
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Company maintains reserves in the years of prosperity and uses them in paying dividend in lean year. If company follows stable dividend policy, the market price of tis shares shall be higher. There are reasons why investors prefer stable dividend policy. Main reasons are-
- Confidence Among Shareholders. A regular and stable dividend payment may serve to resolve uncertainty in the minds of shareholders. The company resorts not to cut the dividend rate even if its profits are lower. It maintains the rate of dividends by appropriating the funds from its reserves.
Stable dividend presents a bright future of the company and thus gains the confidence of the shareholders an the goodwill of the company increases in the eyes of the general investors.
- Income Conscious Investors. The second factor favoring stable dividend policy is that some investors are income conscious and favor a stable rate of dividend. They too, never favour an unstable rte of dividend. A Stable dividend policy may also satisfy such investors.
- Stability in Market Price of Shares. Other things beings equal, the market price very with the rate of dividend the company declares on its equity shares.
The value of shares of a company having a stable dividend policy fluctuates not widely even if the earnings of the company turn down. Thus, this policy buffer the market price of the stock.
- Encouragement to Institutional Investors.
A stable dividend policy attracts investments from institutional investors such institutional investors generally prepare a list of securities, mainly incorporating the securities of the companies having stable dividend policy in which they invest their surpluses or their long term funds such as pensions or provident funds etc.
In this way, stability and regularity of dividends not only affects the market price of shares but also increases the general credit of the company that pays the company in the long run. Factors Affecting Dividend Policy A number of considerations affect the dividend policy of company. The major factors are
1. Stability of Earnings. The nature of business has an important bearing on the dividend policy. Industrial units having stability of earnings may formulate a more consistent dividend policy than those having an uneven flow of incomes because they can predict easily their savings and earnings.
Usually, enterprises dealing in necessities suffer less from oscillating earnings than those dealing in luxuries or fancy goods.
2. Age of corporation. Age of the corporation counts much in deciding the dividend policy. A newly established company may require much of its earnings for expansion and plant improvement and may adopt a rigid dividend policy while, on the other hand, an older company can formulate a clear cut and more consistent policy regarding dividend.
3. Liquidity of Funds.
Availability of cash and sound financial position is also an important factor in dividend decisions. A dividend represents a cash outflow, the greater the funds and the liquidity of the firm the better the ability to pay dividend. The liquidity of a firm depends very much on the investment and financial decisions of the firm which in turn determines the rate of expansion and the manner of financing. If cash position is weak, stock dividend will be distributed and if cash position is good, company can distribute the cash dividend.
4. Extent of share Distribution.
Nature of ownership also affects the dividend decisions. A closely held company is likely to get the assent of the shareholders for the suspension of dividend or for following a conservative dividend policy. On the other hand, a company having a good number of shareholders widely distributed and forming low or medium income group, would face a great difficulty in securing such assent because they will emphasise to distribute higher dividend.
5. Needs for Additional Capital. Companies retain a part of their profits for strengthening their financial position.
The income may be conserved for meeting the increased requirements of working capital or of future expansion. Small companies usually find difficulties in raising finance for their needs of increased working capital for expansion programmes. They having no other alternative, use their ploughed back profits. Thus, such Companies distribute dividend at low rates and retain a big part of profits.
6. Trade Cycles. Business cycles also exercise influence upon dividend Policy. Dividend policy is adjusted according to the business oscillations.
During the boom, prudent management creates food reserves for contingencies which follow the inflationary period. Higher rates of dividend can be used as a tool for marketing the securities in an otherwise depressed market. The financial solvency can be proved and maintained by the companies in dull years if the adequate reserves have been built up.
7. Government Policies. The earnings capacity of the enterprise is widely affected by the change in fiscal, industrial, labour, control and other government policies.
Sometimes government restricts the distribution of dividend beyond a certain percentage in a particular industry or in all spheres of business activity as was done in emergency. The dividend policy has to be modified or formulated accordingly in those enterprises. 8. Taxation Policy. High taxation reduces the earnings of he companies and consequently the rate of dividend is lowered down. Sometimes government levies dividend-tax of distribution of dividend beyond a certain limit. It also affects the capital formation. N India, dividends beyond 10 % of aid-up capital are subject to dividend tax at 7. 5 %.
9. Legal Requirements. In deciding on the dividend, the directors take the legal requirements too into consideration. In order to protect the interests of creditors an outsiders, the companies Act 1956 prescribes certain guidelines in respect of the distribution and payment of dividend. Moreover, a company is required to provide for depreciation on its fixed and tangible assets before declaring dividend on shares. It proposes that Dividend should not be distributed out of capita, in any case.
Likewise, contractual obligation should also be fulfilled, for example, payment of dividend on preference shares in priority over ordinary dividend.
10. Past dividend Rates.
While formulating the Dividend Policy, the directors must keep in mind the dividend paid in past years. The current rate should be around the average past rat. If it has been abnormally increased the shares will be subjected to speculation. In a new concern, the company should consider the dividend policy of the rival organisation.
11. Ability to Borrow.
Well established and large firms have better access to the capital market than the new Companies and may borrow funds from the external sources if there arises any need. Such Companies may have a better dividend pay-out ratio. Whereas smaller firms have to depend on their internal sources and therefore they will have to built up good reserves by reducing the dividend pay out ratio for meeting any obligation requiring heavy funds.
12. Policy of Control.
Policy of control is another determining factor is so far as dividends are concerned.
If the directors want to have control on company, they would not like to add new shareholders and therefore, declare a dividend at low rate. Because by adding new shareholders they fear dilution of control and diversion of policies and programmes of the existing management. So they prefer to meet the needs through retained earing. If the directors do not bother about the control of affairs they will follow a liberal dividend policy. Thus control is an influencing factor in framing the dividend policy. 13. Repayments of Loan. A company having loan indebtedness are vowed to a igh rate of retention earnings, unless one other arrangements are made for the redemption of debt on maturity. It will naturally lower down the rate of dividend. Sometimes, the lenders (mostly institutional lenders) put restrictions on the dividend distribution still such time their loan is outstanding. Formal loan contracts generally provide a certain standard of liquidity and solvency to be maintained. Management is bound to hour such restrictions and to limit the rate of dividend payout. 14. Time for Payment of Dividend. When should the dividend be paid is another consideration.
Payment of dividend means outflow of cash. It is, therefore, desirable to distribute dividend at a time when is least needed by the company because there are peak times as well as lean periods of expenditure. Wise management should plan the payment of dividend in such a manner that there is no cash outflow at a time when the undertaking is already in need of urgent finances. 15. Regularity and stability in Dividend Payment. Dividends should be paid regularly because each investor is interested in the regular payment of dividend.
The management should, inspite of regular payment of dividend, consider that the rate of dividend should be all the most constant. For this purpose sometimes companies maintain dividend Meaning and Types of Dividend The profits of a company when made available for the distribution among its shareholders are called dividend. The dividend may be as a fixed annual percentage of paid up capital as in the case of preference shares or it may vary according to the prosperity of the company as in the case of ordinary shares.
The decision for distributing or paying a dividend is taken in the meeting of Board of Directors and in confirmed generally by the annual general meeting of the shareholders. The dividend can be declared only out of divisible profits, remained after setting of all the expenses, transferring the reasonable amount of profit to reserve fund and providing for depreciation and taxation for the year. It means if in any year, there is not profits, no dividend shall be distributed that year.
The shareholders cannot insist upon the company to declared the dividend. It is solely the discretion of the directors. Aunt hinted that the dividend was an income of the owners of the corporation which they received in the capacity of the owner. Distribution of dividend involves reduction of current assets (cash) but not always. Stock dividend or bonus shares is an exception to it Basic Issues Involved in Dividend Policy There are certain basic questions which are Involved in determining the sound dividend policy. Such questions are:-
1.Cost of Capital. Cost of capital is one of the considerations for taking a decision whether to distribute dividend or not. As decision making tool, the Board calculates the ratio of rupee profits that the business expects to earn (Ra) to the rupee, profits that the shareholders can expect to earn outside (Rc) i. e. , Rs. /Rc. If the ratio is less than one, it is a signal to distribute dividend and if it is more than one, the distribution of dividend will be discontinued.
2. realisation of Objectives. The main objectives of the firm i. e. maximization of wealth for shareholders including there current rate of dividend-should also be aimed at in formulating the dividend policy.
3. Shareholders' Group. Dividend policy affects the shareholders group. It means a company with low pay-out an heavy reinvestment attracts shareholders interested in capital gains rather than n current income whereas a company with high dividend pay-out attracts those who are interested in current income.
4. Release of Corporate earnings. Dividend distribution is taking as a mens of distributing unused funds.
Dividend policy affects the shareholders wealth by varying its dividend pay = out ratio. In Dividend policy, the financial manager decides whether to release Corporate earnings or not. These are certain basic issues Involved in formulating a Dividend policy. Dividend policy to a large extent affects the financial structure, the flow of funds, liquidity, stock prices and in the last shareholders' satisfaction. That is why management exercises a high degree of judgment establishing a sound dividend pattern.
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