The dividend-price ratio does predict dividend growth: International evidence
Unpredictable dividend growth by the dividend-price ratio is considered a 'stylized fact' in post war US data. Using long-term annual data from the US and three European countries, we revisit this stylized fact, and we also report results on return predictability. We make two main contributions. First, we document that for the US, results for long-horizon predictability are crucially dependent on whether returns and dividend growth are measured in nominal or real terms, and this difference is due to long-term inflation being strongly negatively predictable by the dividend-price ratio. The impact of inflation is to reinforce real return predictability and to reduce - or change direction of - real dividend growth predictability. This provides an explanation for the strong predictability of long-horizon real returns in the 'right' direction, and the strong predictability of long-horizon real dividend growth in the 'wrong' direction, that we see in US post war data. Second, we find that predictability patterns in three European stock markets are in many ways different from what characterize the US stock market. In particular, in Sweden and Denmark dividend growth is strongly predictable by the dividend-price ratio in the 'right' direction while returns are not predictable. The results for the UK are mixed. Our results are robust to a number of changes in the modeling framework. We discuss the results for dividend growth predictability in terms of the 'dividend smoothing hypothesis'.
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