A Note on Dividend Policy
Profit-making corporations returned cash to investors through dividends or share repurchases. Market participants referred to the fraction of the profits paid to shareholders in the form of dividends as the "payout ratio." However, a large number of firms have never paid a dividend. For instance, over the past decade, more than half of the listed firms in the United States neither paid a dividend nor repurchased shares. For example, only 20 per cent of firms on the Singapore Stock Exchange consistently paid dividends over the past decade, with similar proportions observed in both US and European stock markets. The percentage of dividend-paying firms plummeted to a record low of 17 per cent in 2000. In fact, most of the "new economy" firms such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, reinvested their entire savings. This note describes rational dividend theories, behavioural dividend theories, and outlines the four categories of dividend strategies followed by firms. Emir Hrnji is affiliated with National University of Singapore. David Reeb is affiliated with National University of Singapore.