What is the Preferred Dividend?
Preferred dividends refer the amount of dividend payable on the preferred stock to the of the company from the profits earned by the company and preferred stockholders enjoys priority in receiving such dividends as compared to common stock which means the company has to first discharge the liability of preferred dividends before discharging any liability of dividends payable to the preferred stockholders.
Preferred Dividends is a fixed dividend received from Preferred stocks. It means that if you’re a preferred shareholder, you would get a fixed percentage of dividends every year. And the most beneficial part of the preferred stock is that the preferred shareholders get a higher rate of dividend. They are also given more preference than equity shareholders in terms of dividend payment.
source: Diana Shipping
Preference Dividends Formula
Here’s a simple formula for calculating preferred dividends on preferred stock –
If preferred shareholders want to invest in the preferred stocks, they need to look at the prospectus.
They need to see two basic things first.
- What is the par value of the stock?
- What is the rate of dividends?
Once they know these two basic things, they can simply multiply these two components and can understand how much they would receive at the end of each year.
The great advantage of investing in preferred stocks is that it is like a fixed instrument. You are assured of a fixed payment every year.
Plus, if the firm gets bankrupt any day, you will be given preference over equity shareholders. It means that if the company becomes bankrupt before equity shareholders are paid a buck, you will get the amounts due to you.
Once you know how to calculate the preferred dividend per share, you would just need to multiply the number of shares with the preferred dividend per share. And you would know how much each year you would get each year.
Example of Preferred Dividend
Let’s take a simple example and see how it works.
Urusula has invested in preferred stocks of a firm. As the prospectus says, she will get a preferred dividend of 8% of the par value of shares. The par value of each share is $100. Urusual has bought 1000 preferred stocks. How much dividend she will get every year?
The basic two things to calculate the dividend are given. We know the rate of dividend and also the par value of each share.
- Preferred Dividend formula = Par value * Rate of Dividend * Number of Preferred Stocks
- = $100 * 0.08 * 1000 = $8000.
It means that every year, Urusula will get $8000 as dividends.
Common features of preferred dividend
#1 – Higher dividend rates
- Rates are much higher than the rates of equity or common stock.
- The reason for this is because preference shareholders do not have ownership control over the company, hence to attract the investors, higher rates of dividends are offered to them.
#2 – Fixed percentage
- Unlike the dividend on common or equity stock which keeps on fluctuating every year depending on the profitability ratios of the company, preferred dividends do not fluctuate, their rate remains unchanged throughout the maturity life of preference share.
- There is also one other major reason for the fluctuation of dividends on common stock.
- Dividend rates on common shares are recommended by the shareholders during the annual general meeting of the company.
- Hence it keeps on fluctuating since the shareholders decide rates keeping in mind the profitability and future outlook of the Company.
#3 – Cumulative or arrears in dividend
- Shareholders are entitled to a dividend every year irrespective of the profitability of the Company.
- But sometimes, on account of business exigencies, a company may not be in a position to pay to shareholders.
- In such circumstances, dividends are accumulated and are paid in a subsequent year.
- Let’s understand the impact of one of the business exigencies on payment of preference dividend with the help of a practical illustration.
Cumulative Preferred Dividend Example
Company X Inc. has 3 million outstanding 5% preferred shares as of December 31st, 2016. The par value of preference shares is $10 each. The cash balance available with the Company is $1 million.
Preference dividend to be paid for the year 2015 = 1,500,000 (3,000,000 *10*5)/100
Available cash balance =1,000,000
In the above case, it’s not possible for the company to pay a dividend to shareholders since the total available cash is less than the total amount of preferred dividend liability. Since the dividend is always paid in cash, its shortage will force the company to withhold the payments of dividends for the year 2016. In the above case, a dividend will get accumulated and must eventually be paid to preferred shareholders in a subsequent financial year.
Please note, that the above illustration highlights just one single business exigency. There are various other business exigencies which might force the company to withhold the payment of preferred dividend.
#4 – Legal obligations
- Preferred dividends, like interest on debts, create a legal obligation on the company. These are to be paid to shareholders in preference over any common stock dividend.
- The liability of the company to pay dividends is unconditional and absolute.
- Various jurisdictions impose penalties in case the company does not pay an outstanding preferred dividend.
- These penalties range from fine and imprisonment of directors to prohibition on the company to raise additional finances from the public, till the liabilities are paid out.
#5 – Preferred treatment
- It is paid out to shareholders in precedence over other types of dividends i.e. dividends are paid out to shareholders before the common stock or equity dividends are issued.
- In case of liquidation of the company, the shareholders with preferred shares are entitled to be paid from company assets first.
- All this feature of the preferred dividend gives it the preferential treatment with respect to other types of dividends.
- The above features highlight some of the common features contained in most of the preferred shares. In the corporate world, there are various types of preference shares.
- These may or may not have some of the above-mentioned features and may also contain some additional unique features.
- Now, let’s looks at the different types of preference shares that are issued by the company to raise capital in the primary and secondary markets.
The preferred stock pays a fixed percentage of dividends. That’s why we can call it perpetuity because the dividend payment is equal and paid for an infinite period of time. However, a firm can choose to skip the equal payment of preferred dividends to preferred shareholders. And the firm can choose to pay the dividends in arrears.
It means that a firm won’t pay a dividend each year. Rather the due amount of dividend would accumulate over the period of time. And then the firm will pay the accumulated preferred dividends to the preferred shareholders. This feature of arrear payment is only available with the cumulative preferred stock. And the firm is legally obligated to pay off the previous year’s preferred dividend before paying the current year’s dividend.
In the case of non-cumulative preferred stocks, this feature of arrear payment is not available.
Preferred Dividend Calculator
You can use the following Calculator
|Preferred Dividends Formula =||Par Value x Rate of Dividend x Number of Preferred Stocks|
|0 x 0 x 0 =||0|
Preferred Dividend Calculation in Excel (with Excel Template)
Let us now do the same example above in Excel. This is very simple. You need to provide the two inputs of Par value, Rate of Dividend and Number of Preferred Stocks.
You can easily calculate the ratio in the template provided.
You can download this template here – Preferred Dividend Excel template
- Higher dividend rate – This is one of the most important advantages of holding preference shares. Amongst all the debt instruments like bonds, commercial papers, Government T-bills and etc., return received by an investor by holding a preference share is far greater than received through holding any other debts instrument. The reason is pretty obvious since the cost is directly related to return. Higher the cost of holding any instrument, the higher is the return received through it and vice versa.
- Preferential treatment – As highlighted above, preferred shareholders have the right to preferential treatment regarding dividends. In the event of liquidation of Company, the shareholders with preferred shares are entitled to be paid from company assets prior to Common stock shareholders.
- Assured minimum return – Preference shares have a fixed dividend rate, whereas, on the other hand, common stocks do not have a fixed dividend. Fixation of the dividend rate in advance guarantees the minimum return to shareholders. Shareholders do not have to depend on the general economic conditions or the profitability of the company. In case the company suffers a loss, the dividend gets accumulated for the subsequent year.
Preferred Dividend Video
This has been a guide to what is Preferred Dividends, its formula, its features and advantages along with practical examples. Here we also provide you with Preferred Dividends Calculator with a downloadable excel template.