Preferred Dividend

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 will 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.

Preferred Dividends - Diana Shipping

source: Diana Shipping

Preference Dividends Formula

Here’s a simple formula for calculating preferred dividends on preferred stock –

Preferred Dividends = Par Value x Rate of Dividend x Number of Preferred Stocks


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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 shareDividend Per ShareDividends per share are calculated by dividing the total amount of dividends paid out by the company over a year by the total number of average shares more. And you would know how much 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 will she 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

#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, the company can’t 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 dividend payments 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


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. 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 arrearsDividends In ArrearsDividends in Arrears is the cumulative dividend amount that has not been paid to the cumulative preferred stockholders by the presumed date. It might be due to the business having insufficient cash balance for dividend payment or any other reason. read more.

It means that a firm won’t pay a dividend each year. Rather the due amount of dividend would accumulate over the period. 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 stockThe Cumulative Preferred StockCumulative preferred stock is a class of shares wherein any current year's unpaid or undeclared dividends must be accumulated and paid in the future. However, such stocks are costlier, do not have voting rights and cannot demand the interim more. 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 stocksNon-cumulative Preferred StocksNon-cumulative preference shares are the stocks which allow the investors to receive a fixed dividend at the pre-determined dividend rate every year. However, if any year's dividend remains unpaid, the preference shareholders are not liable to receive it in the more, this feature of arrear payment is not available.

Preferred Dividend Calculator

You can use the following Calculator

Par Value
Rate of Dividend
Number of Preferred Stocks
Preferred Dividends Formula

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.

Preferred Stock Formula in Excel

You can download this template here – Preferred Dividend Excel template.


Preferred Dividend Video


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This article has been a guide to what is Preferred Dividends, its formula, features, and advantages along with practical examples. Here we also provide you with Preferred Dividends Calculator with a downloadable excel template.

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