Noncumulative Preference Shares (Stocks)

Updated on July 8, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Are Noncumulative Preference Shares?

Noncumulative preference shares are those shares that provide the shareholder a fixed dividend amount each year from the company’s net profit. Still, if the company fails to pay the dividend on such preference shares to the shareholder in any year, then such dividend cannot be claimed by the shareholder in the future.

Noncumulative Preference Shares (Stocks)

You are free to use this image on your website, templates, etc, Please provide us with an attribution linkHow to Provide Attribution?Article Link to be Hyperlinked
For eg:
Source: Noncumulative Preference Shares (Stocks) (wallstreetmojo.com)

The noncumulative preference shareholders hold no right to claim any unpaid dividends in subsequent years. Instead, they get a fixed dividend out of each year’s profits if the company fails to declare the dividend.

Noncumulative Preference Shares Explained

Noncumulative Preference Stocks are the stocks that are issued by the companies, but then the issuer may skip or decide not to pay the dividends to the shareholders any longer. Moreover, the shareholders too do not have the right to claim for the unpaid dividends. In short, such stock options keep the firms free from obligations concerning sure-shot dividend payments.

Issuing such stocks is a rare scenario as there is no guarantee for shareholders of receiving dividends. In short, this option puts them in an uncertain situation, thereby making it a not-so-worthy stock alternative. For companies, if they do not pay noncumulative dividends, they have to skip paying dividends to common stockholders as well for that particular year. However, if the terms and conditions of the company allow them to do so, they may go for it. But in most situations, the former holds true.

The unpaid dividends on noncumulative preferred shares (stock) are not carried forward in subsequent years. If management does not declare a dividend in a particular year, there is no question of ‘dividends in arrears‘ in case of noncumulative preferred shares. In noncumulative preference shares, a company can skip the dividend in the year. As a result, the company has incurred losses.

A company issues cumulative preference shares to pay out lower dividends as they trade rich in the market as they are placed above the noncumulative preference shares and leads to a higher credit rating for the companies. But having issued noncumulative preference shares provides flexibility to companies, as in case of a financial crisis, they can manage without paying out dividends. Thus companies should maintain a balanced capital structure having a proper mix of Equity, Cumulative, and Non Cumulative Preference shares. This helps them manage a balanced investment with a satisfying return to investors and, at the same time, manage with lower cash flows during a financial crisis.

Accounting for Financial Analyst (16+ Hours Video Series)

–>> p.s. – Want to take your financial analysis to the next level? Consider our “Accounting for Financial Analyst” course, featuring in-depth case studies of McDonald’s and Colgate, and over 16 hours of video tutorials. Sharpen your skills and gain valuable insights to make smarter investment decisions.


Noncumulative preference shares or stocks do not make firms obligated to pay dividends to shareholders. In short, the dividends that remain unpaid cannot be claimed by the expected recipients. This is one of the many benefits that these stock options have.

Let s have a look at some of the most important advantages of issuing these shares:

  • Don’t have an obligation to Pay – The company’s obligation to pay the shareholders does not exist with these types of preferred stocks. The company can skip paying the dividends in the current year with no arrears or balance accumulated for the future year. For example, XYZ Company declares a $0.80 annual dividend to its preferred shareholders. However, the board of directors feels that there is insufficient cash flow at the end to pay the dividend. Since the preferred stock is noncumulative, the company has no obligation to pay them, and these shareholders have no right to claim it.
  • Helps in Manage Cash Flows – Noncumulative preferred stock in the books provides the companies to manage their resources/cash flows better. It gives them greater flexibility as the fixed obligation gets reduced. Hence it is beneficial for the companies to issue noncumulative preference shares as the payments get suspended without any penalties.
  • Preference over Common Shareholders – Being like preference shares, these noncumulative preference stocks also have preferential rights over equity/ common shares holders. They get paid before the common shareholders when it comes to the dividend, thus assuming that the equity shareholders will not be getting paid before them.
  • Preferential rights during Liquidation When the company liquidates, these preference shareholders again exercise their preferential rights over the common shareholders and are entitled to payments before them. These benefits make them more attractive over equity.
Noncumulative Preference Shares Image

You are free to use this image on your website, templates, etc, Please provide us with an attribution linkHow to Provide Attribution?Article Link to be Hyperlinked
For eg:
Source: Noncumulative Preference Shares (Stocks) (wallstreetmojo.com)


Let us consider the examples below to understand the concept even better:

Example 1

Company A issues noncumulative preference stocks every year and tries to pay dividends without skipping, given the expectations of the shareholders. However, this current year, it decided to skip paying the dividends to the noncumulative preference shares as it has been recording losses for the last few quarters. This way, it aimed at saving some amount to deal with a few other business expenses.

Example 2

Assume ABC Company with 1000, 5%, $100 par value noncumulative preferred stocks outstanding issued a dividend.

for a $500 dividend. Since the preferred shareholders have the preferential right to dividends, they would take the entire dividend up to their limit (5% of Par), and the common stockholders wouldn’t receive a dividend that year. However, if the company declares dividends this year, again, the preferential rights of the preferred shareholders get retained, and they get the first right to the dividends as they haven’t received their share in full.

Any arrears would not accumulate for the future in case of noncumulative preference shares (stock) and thus would not be able to claim it, thereby leading to no obligation on the issuing company.

Difference Between Cumulative and Non-Cumulative Preference Stock (shares)

Cumulative and non-cumulative stocks are two types of stock options available to shareholders. While the former makes it mandatory for firms to pay off the dividends when accumulated, the latter keeps the firms off from the obligation of mandatory payment of dividends to shareholders.

Let us check out the differences between the terms quickly below:

ParticularsCumulativeNon-Cumulative Preferred Stock
DefinitionAs the name suggests, any arrears in dividends get accumulated and are paid when the company decides to pay out dividends.Any arrear in dividends does get accumulated, and they have no right to claim it any time in the future if skipped.
RankPlaced above the non-cumulative preference shares and are paid before them.Placed below cumulative preference shares and are paid after them.
Dividend Rate of ReturnLower than non-cumulative preference sharesHigher than Cumulative preference shares.
Credit RatingIt provides a higher credit rating to the issuing company.It provides a lower credit rating to the issuing company.

This has been a guide to what are Noncumulative Preference Shares. We explain it with examples, advantages & differences with cumulative preference shares. You may learn more about accounting from the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Tracy Moyo says

    good and understandable notes