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Dividend Payout Ratio Definition

What Is a Dividend Payout Ratio?

Table of Contents

The dividend payout ratio is the ratio of the full quantity of dividends paid out to shareholders relative to the web revenue of the corporate. It’s the proportion of earnings paid to shareholders through dividends. The quantity that isn’t paid to shareholders is retained by the corporate to repay debt or to reinvest in core operations. It’s generally merely known as merely the payout ratio.

Key Takeaways

  • The dividend payout ratio is the proportion of earnings paid out as dividends to shareholders, usually expressed as a proportion. 
  • Some firms pay out all their earnings to shareholders, whereas some solely pay out a portion of their earnings.
  • If an organization pays out a few of its earnings as dividends, the remaining portion is retained by the enterprise—to measure the extent of earnings retained, the retention ratio is calculated.
  • A number of issues go into deciphering the dividend payout ratio, most significantly the corporate’s degree of maturity.

Components and Calculation of Dividend Payout Ratio

The dividend payout ratio may be calculated because the yearly dividend per share divided by the earnings per share (EPS), or equivalently, the dividends divided by web revenue (as proven beneath).

Dividend Payout Ratio


Dividends Paid

Web Earnings

beginaligned &textDividend Payout Ratio = frac textDividends Paid textNet Earnings endaligned

Dividend Payout Ratio=Web EarningsDividends Paid

Alternatively, the dividend payout ratio can be calculated as:

Dividend Payout Ratio



Retention Ratio

beginaligned &textDividend Payout Ratio = 1 – textRetention Ratio endaligned

Dividend Payout Ratio=1Retention Ratio

On a per-share foundation, the retention ratio may be expressed as:

Retention Ratio





the place:



Earnings per share



Dividends per share

beginaligned&textRetention Ratio = frac textEPS-textDPS textEPS &textbfwhere:&textEPS=textEarnings per share &textDPS=textDividends per shareendaligned

Retention Ratio=EPSEPSDPSthe place:EPS=Earnings per shareDPS=Dividends per share

The dividend payout ratio offers a sign of how a lot cash an organization is returning to shareholders versus how a lot it’s protecting readily available to reinvest in development, repay debt, or add to money reserves (retained earnings). 

What the Dividend Payout Ratio Tells You

A number of issues go into deciphering the dividend payout ratio, most significantly the corporate’s degree of maturity. A brand new, growth-oriented firm that goals to develop, develop new merchandise, and transfer into new markets could be anticipated to reinvest most or all of its earnings and may very well be forgiven for having a low or even zero payout ratio. The payout ratio is 0% for firms that don’t pay dividends and is 100% for firms that pay out their whole web revenue as dividends.

Alternatively, an older, established firm that returns a pittance to shareholders would check traders’ persistence and will tempt activists to intervene. In 2012 and after practically twenty years since its final paid dividend, Apple (AAPL) started to pay a dividend when the brand new CEO felt the corporate’s huge money circulate made a 0% payout ratio tough to justify. Because it implies that an organization has moved previous its preliminary development stage, a excessive payout ratio means share costs are unlikely to understand quickly.

Dividend Sustainability

The payout ratio can also be helpful for assessing a dividend’s sustainability. Corporations are extraordinarily reluctant to chop dividends since it may well drive the inventory worth down and replicate poorly on administration’s skills. If an organization’s payout ratio is over 100%, it’s returning more cash to shareholders than it’s incomes and can most likely be compelled to decrease the dividend or cease paying it altogether. That end result is just not inevitable, nevertheless.

An organization endures a foul yr with out suspending payouts, and it’s usually of their curiosity to take action. It’s subsequently necessary to contemplate future earnings expectations and calculate a forward-looking payout ratio to contextualize the backward-looking one.

Lengthy-term traits within the payout ratio additionally matter. A steadily rising ratio may point out a wholesome, maturing enterprise, however a spiking one may imply the dividend is heading into unsustainable territory.

The retention ratio is a converse idea to the dividend payout ratio. The dividend payout ratio evaluates the proportion of income earned that an organization pays out to its shareholders, whereas the retention ratio represents the proportion of income earned which are retained by or reinvested within the firm.

Dividends Are Business Particular

Dividend payouts range extensively by trade, and like most ratios, they’re most helpful to check inside a given trade. Real estate investment partnerships (REITs), for instance, are legally obligated to distribute no less than 90% of earnings to shareholders as they take pleasure in particular tax exemptions. Grasp restricted partnerships (MLPs) are inclined to have excessive payout ratios, as effectively. 

Dividends are usually not the one manner firms can return worth to shareholders; subsequently, the payout ratio doesn’t at all times present a whole image. The augmented payout ratio incorporates share buybacks into the metric; it is calculated by dividing the sum of dividends and buybacks by web revenue for a similar interval. If the result’s too excessive, it may well point out an emphasis on short-term boosts to share costs on the expense of reinvestment and long-term development.

One other adjustment that may be made to supply a extra correct image is to subtract preferred stock dividends for firms that concern most popular shares.

The right way to Calculate the Payout Ratio in Excel

First, in case you are given the sum of the dividends over a sure interval and the excellent shares, you possibly can calculate the dividends per share (DPS). Suppose you’re invested in an organization that paid a complete of $5 million final yr and it has 5 million shares excellent. On Microsoft Excel, enter “Dividends per Share” into cell A1. Subsequent, enter “=5000000/5000000” in cell B1; the dividend per share on this firm is $1 per share.

Then, that you must calculate the earnings per share (EPS) if it’s not given. Enter “Earnings per Share” into cell A2. Suppose the corporate had a web revenue of $50 million final yr. The method for earnings per share is (web revenue – dividends on most popular inventory) ÷ (shares excellent). Enter “=(50000000 – 5000000)/5000000” into cell B2. The EPS for this firm is $9.

Lastly, calculate the payout ratio: Enter “Payout Ratio” into cell A3. Subsequent, enter “=B1/B2” into cell B3; the payout ratio is 11.11%. Buyers use the ratio to gauge whether or not dividends are acceptable and sustainable. The payout ratio depends upon the sector; for instance, startup firms could have a low payout ratio as a result of they’re extra centered on reinvesting their revenue to develop the enterprise.

Instance of The right way to Use the Payout Ratio

Corporations that make a revenue on the finish of a fiscal interval can do a number of issues with the revenue they earned. They will pay it to shareholders as dividends, they will retain it to reinvest within the development of its enterprise, or they will do each. The portion of the revenue that an organization chooses to pay out to its shareholders may be measured with the payout ratio.

For instance, Apple (AAPL) has paid $0.87 per share in dividends over the trailing 12 months (TTM) as of Jan. 3, 2022. Apple’s EPS over the TTM has been as follows:

  • Q1 2021: $1.70
  • Q2 2021: $1.41
  • Q3 2021: $1.31
  • This autumn 2021: $1.25

The TTM EPS for Apple is $5.67 as of Jan. 3, 2022. Thus, its payout ratio is 15.3%, or $0.87 divided by $5.67.

Dividend Payout vs. Dividend Yield

When comparing these two measures, it is necessary to know that the dividend yield tells you what the easy price of return is within the type of cash dividends to shareholders, however the dividend payout ratio represents how a lot of an organization’s web earnings are paid out as dividends.

Whereas the dividend yield is the extra generally recognized and scrutinized time period, many consider the dividend payout ratio is a greater indicator of an organization’s skill to distribute dividends constantly sooner or later. The dividend payout ratio is very linked to an organization’s cash flow.

The dividend yield reveals how a lot an organization has paid out in dividends over the course of a yr concerning the inventory worth. The yield is introduced as a proportion, not as an precise greenback quantity. This makes it simpler to see how a lot return per greenback invested the shareholder receives by dividends.

The yield is calculated as:

Dividend Yield


Annual Dividends per Share

Value per Share

beginaligned &textDividend Yield = frac textAnnual Dividends per Share textPrice per Share endaligned

Dividend Yield=Value per ShareAnnual Dividends per Share

For instance, an organization that paid out $10 in annual dividends per share on a inventory buying and selling at $100 per share has a dividend yield of 10%. It’s also possible to see that an increase in share price reduces the dividend yield proportion and vice versa for a worth decline.

Why Is the Dividend Payout Ratio Vital?

The dividend payout ratio is a key monetary metric used to find out the sustainability of an organization’s dividend fee program. It’s the quantity of dividends paid to shareholders relative to the full web revenue of an organization. 

How Do You Calculate the Dividend Payout Ratio?

It is often calculated on a per-share foundation by dividing annual dividends per frequent share by earnings per share (EPS).

Is a Excessive Dividend Payout Ratio Good?

A excessive dividend payout ratio is just not at all times valued by energetic traders. An unusually excessive dividend payout ratio can point out that an organization is making an attempt to masks a foul enterprise scenario from traders by providing extravagant dividends, or that it merely doesn’t plan to aggressively use working capital to develop.

What Is the Distinction Between the Dividend Payout Ratio and Dividend Yield?

When evaluating the 2 measures of dividends, it is necessary to know that the dividend yield tells you what the easy price of return is within the type of money dividends to shareholders, however the dividend payout ratio represents how a lot of an organization’s web earnings are paid out as dividends.

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