CHAPTER 14Distributions to shareholders: Dividends and share repurchases
Investor preferences on dividends
Dividend reinvestment plans
Stock dividends and stock splits
What is dividend policy?
The decision to pay out earnings versus retaining and reinvesting them.
Dividend policy issues include:
High or low dividend payout?
Stable or irregular dividends?
How frequently to pay dividends?
Announce the dividend policy?
Do investors prefer high or low dividend payouts?
3 theories of dividend policy:
1. Dividend irrelevance: Investors don’t care about dividend payout.
2. Bird-in-the-hand: Investors prefer a high payout.
3. Tax preference: Investors prefer a low payout.
Dividend irrelevance theory
Investors are indifferent between dividends and retention-generated capital gains. Investors can create their own dividend policy:
If they want cash, they can sell stock.
If they don’t want cash, they can use dividends to buy more stock.
Proposed by Modigliani and Miller and based on unrealistic assumptions (no taxes or brokerage costs), hence may not be true.
Implication: Any DIV payout policy is OK.
Investors think dividends are less risky than potential future capital gains, hence they like dividends.
If so, investors would value high-payout firms more highly, i.e., a high DIV payout would result in a high P0.
Implication: Set a high DIV payout.
Tax Preference Theory
Retained earnings lead to long-term capital gains, which used to be taxed at lower rates than dividends: 20% v. 38.6%. Capital gains taxes are also deferred, and investors can control the timing vs. dividend income which is taxed when received.
If an investor holds a stock until his/her death, beneficiaries can use the date of the death as the cost basis and escape all previously accrued capital gains.
This could cause investors to prefer firms with low payouts to minimize taxes, i.e., a high (low) payout results in a low (high) P0.
Implication: Set a low payout.
Possible stock price effects
Which theory is most correct?
Empirical testing has not been able to determine which theory, if any, is correct.
Thus, managers use judgment when setting policy.
Analysis is used, but it must be applied with judgment.
What’s the “information content,” or “signaling,” hypothesis?
Investors view dividend increases as signals of management’s view of the future.
Since managers hate to cut dividends, they won’t raise dividends unless they think the raise is sustainable.
However, a stock price increase at time of a dividend increase could reflect higher expectations for future EPS, not a desire for dividends.
What’s the “clientele effect”?
Different groups of investors, or clienteles, prefer different dividend policies.
Firm’s past dividend policy determines its current clientele of investors.
Clientele effects impede changing dividend policy. Taxes & brokerage costs hurt investors who have to switch companies.
The residual dividend model
Find the retained earnings needed for the capital budget.
Pay out any leftover earnings (the residual) as dividends.
This policy minimizes flotation and equity signaling costs, hence minimizes the WACC.
Residual dividend model
Capital budget = $800,000
Target capital structure = 40% debt, 60% equity
Forecasted net income = $600,000
How much of the forecasted net income should be paid out as dividends?
Residual dividend model:Calculating dividends paid
Calculate portion of capital budget to be funded by equity.
Of the $800,000 capital budget, 0.6($800,000) = $480,000 will be funded with equity.
Calculate excess or need for equity capital.
There will be $600,000 - $480,000 = $120,000 left over to pay as dividends.
Calculate dividend payout ratio (DIV / NIAT)
$120,000 / $600,000 = 0.20 = 20%.
Residual dividend model:What if net income drops to $400,000? Rises to $800,000?
If NI = $400,000 …
Dividends = $400,000 – (0.6)($800,000) = -$80,000.
Since the dividend results in a negative number, the firm must use all of its net income to fund its budget, and probably should issue equity to maintain its target capital structure.
Payout = $0 / $400,000 = 0%.
If NI = $800,000 …
Dividends = $800,000 – (0.6)($800,000) = $320,000.
Payout = $320,000 / $800,000 = 40%.
How would a change in investment opportunities affect dividends under the residual policy?
Fewer good investments would lead to smaller capital budget, hence to a higher dividend payout.
More good investments would lead to a lower dividend payout.
Comments on Residual Dividend Policy
Minimizes new stock issues and flotation costs.
Results in variable dividends
Sends conflicting signals
Doesn’t appeal to any specific clientele.
Conclusion – Consider residual policy when setting long-term target payout, but don’t follow it rigidly from year to year.
What’s a “dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP)”?
Shareholders can automatically reinvest their dividends in shares of the company’s common stock. Get more stock than cash.
There are two types of plans:
Open Market Purchase Plan
Dollars to be reinvested are turned over to trustee, who buys shares on the open market.
Brokerage costs are reduced by volume purchases.
Convenient, easy way to invest, thus useful for investors.
New Stock Plan
Firm issues new stock to DRIP enrollees (usually at a 3-5% discount from the market price), keeps money and uses it to buy assets, w/o floatation costs
Firms that need new equity capital use new stock plans.
Firms with no need for new equity capital use open market purchase plans.
Most NYSE listed companies have a DRIP. Useful for investors.
Setting Dividend Policy
Forecast capital needs over a planning horizon, often 5 years.
Set a target capital structure.
Estimate annual equity needs.
Set target payout based on the residual model.
Generally, some dividend growth rate emerges. Maintain target growth rate if possible, varying capital structure somewhat if necessary.
Buying own stock back from stockholders
Reasons for repurchases:
As an alternative to distributing cash as dividends.
To dispose of one-time cash from an asset sale.
To make a large capital structure change.
Advantages of Repurchases
Stockholders can tender (sell) or not.
Helps avoid setting a high dividend that cannot be maintained.
Repurchased stock can be used in takeovers or resold to raise cash as needed.
Income received is capital gains rather than higher-taxed dividends (sometimes).
Stockholders may take as a positive signal--management thinks stock is undervalued.
Disadvantages of Repurchases
May be viewed as a negative signal (firm has poor investment opportunities).
IRS could impose penalties if repurchases were primarily to avoid taxes on dividends.
Selling stockholders may not be well informed, hence be treated unfairly.
Firm may have to bid up price to complete purchase, thus paying too much for its own stock.
Stock dividends vs. Stock splits
Stock dividend: Firm issues new shares in lieu of paying a cash dividend. If 10%, get 10 shares for each 100 shares owned.
Stock split: Firm increases the number of shares outstanding, say 2:1. Sends shareholders more shares.
Stock dividends vs. Stock splits
Both stock dividends and stock splits increase the number of shares outstanding, so “the pie is divided into smaller pieces.”
Unless the stock dividend or split conveys information, or is accompanied by another event like higher dividends, the stock price falls so as to keep each investor’s wealth unchanged.
But splits/stock dividends may get us to an “optimal price range.”
When and why should a firm consider splitting its stock?
There’s a widespread belief that the optimal price range for stocks is $20 to $80. Stock splits can be used to keep the price in this optimal range.
Stock splits generally occur when management is confident, so are interpreted as positive signals.
On average, stocks tend to outperform the market in the year following a split.
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