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Dividends as Reference Points: A Behavioral Signaling Approach

Author

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  • Malcolm Baker
  • Brock Mendel
  • Jeffrey Wurgler

Abstract

We outline a dividend signaling model that features investors who are averse to dividend cuts. Managers with strong unobservable cash earnings pay high dividends but retain enough to be likely not to fall short next period. The model is consistent with a Lintner partial-adjustment model, modal dividend changes of zero, stronger market reactions to dividend cuts than increases, comparatively infrequent and irregular repurchases, and a mechanism that does not depend on public destruction of value, which managers reject in surveys. New tests involve stronger reactions to changes from longer-maintained dividend levels and reference point currencies of American Depository Receipt dividends. Received July 16, 2012; accepted September 15, 2015 by Editor David Hirshleifer.

Suggested Citation

  • Malcolm Baker & Brock Mendel & Jeffrey Wurgler, 2016. "Dividends as Reference Points: A Behavioral Signaling Approach," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(3), pages 697-738.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:29:y:2016:i:3:p:697-738.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/rfs/hhv058
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    Cited by:

    1. Narcis Tulbure, 2015. "Choice In Context: Rationality, Contingency And Risk In The Dividend Policy," Risk in Contemporary Economy, "Dunarea de Jos" University of Galati, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, pages 388-395.
    2. Floyd, Eric & Li, Nan & Skinner, Douglas J., 2015. "Payout policy through the financial crisis: The growth of repurchases and the resilience of dividends," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 299-316.
    3. Wei Jiang & Meiting Lu & Yaowen Shan & Tingting Zhu, 2016. "Evidence of Avoiding Working Capital Deficits in Australia," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 26(1), pages 107-118, March.
    4. Roni Michaely & Stefano Rossi & Michael Weber, 2017. "The Information Content of Dividends: Safer Profits, Not Higher Profits," CESifo Working Paper Series 6751, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. repec:eee:jfinec:v:132:y:2019:i:1:p:175-199 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Michele Fabrizi & Elisabetta Ipino & Michel Magnan & Antonio Parbonetti, 2016. "Real Regulatory Capital Management and Dividend Payout: Evidence from Available-for-Sale Securities," CIRANO Working Papers 2016s-57, CIRANO.
    7. Andres, Christian & Hofbaur, Ulrich, 2017. "Do what you did four quarters ago: Trends and implications of quarterly dividends," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 139-158.
    8. Scott Walker, 2015. "Repeated Dividend Increases: A Collection of Four Essays," PhD Thesis, Finance Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney, number 17, July-Dece.
    9. Shapiro, Dmitry & Zhuang, Anan, 2015. "Dividends as a signaling device and the disappearing dividend puzzle," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 62-81.
    10. Jeffrey J. Coulton & Caitlin M. S. Ruddock & Stephen L. Taylor, 2014. "The Informativeness of Dividends and Associated Tax Credits," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(9-10), pages 1309-1336, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy

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