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Potential dividends and actual cash flows. Theoretical and empirical reasons for using ‘actual’ and dismissing ‘potential’, Or: How not to pull potential rabbits out of actual hats

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  • Vélez-Pareja, Ignacio
  • Magni, Carlo Alberto

Abstract

Practitioners and academics in valuation include changes in liquid assets (potential dividends) in the cash flows. This widespread and wrong practice is inconsistent with basic finance theory. We present economic, theoretical, and empirical arguments to support the thesis. Economic arguments underline that only flows of cash should be considered for valuation; theoretical arguments show how potential dividends lead to contradiction and to arbitrage losses. Empirical arguments, from recent studies, suggest that investors discount potential dividends with high discount rates, which means that changes in liquid assets are not value drivers. Hence, when valuing cash flows, we should consider only actual payments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 7266.

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Date of creation: 19 Feb 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:7266

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Related research

Keywords: Cash flows; cash flow to equity; free cash flow; liquid assets; potential dividends; firm value; equity value; Modigliani and Miller; levered value; error in valuation;

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  1. Harry DeAngelo & Linda DeAngelo, 2007. "Payout Policy Pedagogy: What Matters and Why," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 13(1), pages 11-27.
  2. Merton H. Miller & Franco Modigliani, 1961. "Dividend Policy, Growth, and the Valuation of Shares," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34, pages 411.
  3. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  4. James E. Smith & Robert F. Nau, 1995. "Valuing Risky Projects: Option Pricing Theory and Decision Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(5), pages 795-816, May.
  5. Lee Pinkowitz & Rene M. Stulz & Rohan Williamson, 2003. "Do Firms in Countries with Poor Protection of Investor Rights Hold More Cash?," NBER Working Papers 10188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Richard S Ruback, 2002. "Capital Cash Flows: A Simple Approach to Valuing Risky Cash Flows," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 31(2), Summer.
  7. Magni, Carlo Alberto, 2007. "Relevance or irrelevance of retention for dividend policy irrelevance," MPRA Paper 5591, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda, 2006. "The irrelevance of the MM dividend irrelevance theorem," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 293-315, February.
  9. Varian, Hal R, 1987. "The Arbitrage Principle in Financial Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 55-72, Fall.
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