Dividend Policy of German Firms
AbstractGerman firms pay out a lower proportion of their cash flows than UK and US firms.However, on a published profits basis, the pattern is reversed.Company law provisions and accounting policies account for these conflicting results.A partial adjustment model is used to estimate the implicit target payout ratio and the speed of adjustment of dividends towards a long run target payout ratio. We find that German firms do not base their dividend decisions on published earnings, but on cash flows.The reasons for the use of a cash flow-based payout policy are: (i) published earnings figures do not correctly reflect corporate performance as German firms tend to retain a significant part of their earnings to build up legal reserves, (ii) the conservative nature of German accounting policies, (iii) published earnings are subject to a higher degree of smoothing than cash flows.Regarding the speed of adjustment of dividends towards the long term target payout ratio, UK and US companies only slowly adjust their dividend policy whereas German are more willing to cut the dividend in the wake of a temporary decrease in profitability.This causes a higher degree of 'discreteness' in the dividends-pershare time series as opposed to the 'smoothness' (i.e., frequent annual small adjustments in the dividend per share) observed in the US and the UK.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2004-122.
Date of creation: 2004
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Dividend policy; payout policy; Lintner dividend model; dividend smoothing; partial adjustment model; corporate governance;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
- G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
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