Factors Affecting Dividend Decisions Part 6

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The dividend to preference shareholders is paid at fixed rate and paid on priority basis i.e., before making payment to equity shareholders. The dividend to be paid to equity shareholders is the real issue involved in dividend decision by the management of any company. Such a decision is guided by the following factors:

Image of Factors Affecting Dividend Decisions

Image of Factors Affecting Dividend Decisions

Image of Factors Affecting Dividend Decisions

Financial Needs of the Company

While deciding the amount of dividend to be paid, the management must take into account the financial needs for normal growth of its business, the expansion activities, the repayment of long-term debt, etc. Even otherwise, the company must retain a part of profits for long term solvency and meeting future contingencies.

Liquidity Requirement

The payment of dividend involves out flow of cash. At times, a company may have high profits but not much cash. In such a situation, it may not declare high rate of dividend. Even otherwise, liquidity requirement for ensuring timely payment of all dues and debts has to be kept in view while determining the rate of dividend. Such a consideration is of greater importance in case of a growing concern whose liquidity needs may be large on account of its expansion activities and growing working capital requirement, and therefore, they would prefer low pay-out.

Access to Capital Market

A company which, by virtue of its record of profitability and timely repayment of debt, has better access to capital market i.e., it can successfully raise funds by issuing shares and debentures through the capital market, may pay higher dividends. But, if a company does not have easy access to capital markets because of its weak financial position or low profitability record, it cannot afford to pay high dividends.

Expectations of Shareholders

The equity shareholders normally look forward to appreciation to their capital rather than higher rate of dividend. But, some shareholders like retired persons or employees do look forward to dividend as a source of their regular income. So, the companies cannot ignore such segment and pay low dividend or skip it even when there are high profits. A reasonable pay-out is always welcome. In fact, the companies which skip payment of dividend or pay too low rate of dividend as a matter of practice, are rated low in the capital market as the shareholders suspect their management’s intentions.

Tax Policy

In our country, dividends have been taxable in the hands of shareholders. Hence, the companies prefer to pay low amount of dividend and issue bonus shares to the shareholders from time to time as these are not taxable until these are sold. If these are sold after 12 months, the sale proceeds are regarded as long-term capital gain and taxed at a lower rate. However, of late, the government has changed its policy of taxation of dividends. The dividends are not taxable in the hands of shareholders. But the company has to pay some additional tax (12.5%) on the distributed part of its profits.

Investment Opportunities and Growth Prospects

When a company has adequate profitable investment opportunities and growth prospects, it may prefer to retain more profits and pay low rate of dividends so as to serve the shareholders in a better way in long run. Of course, in the absence of such possibilities, companies prefer payment of higher dividend and avoid idle cash with them.

Sometimes, the government prescribes certain limits on the dividend pay-out which has to be kept in view while deciding on the rate of dividend to be paid. Similarly, at times the long-term fund providers may put some restrictions on the dividend pay-out as part of their agreement. The companies have to adhere to such limits. In any case, the Company Law has provided certain rules to be followed while deciding on the amount to be distributed as dividend.

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