Cumulative preferred stock is a type of preferred stock that ensures that all dividend payments, including missed ones, are paid to cumulative preferred shareholders before other preferred stockholders and common shareholders. This provision sets it apart from non-cumulative preferred stock, making it a favorable choice for investors seeking dividend reliability.
Cumulative preferred stock explained
Cumulative preferred stock is a financial instrument that provides investors with a unique advantage: the guarantee that they will receive all owed dividends, even if previous payments have been missed. This article explores the concept, characteristics, benefits, and potential drawbacks of cumulative preferred stock.
Understanding preferred stock
Preferred stock is a type of equity security issued by corporations that combines features of both common stock and bonds. Preferred stockholders have a claim on a company’s earnings and assets, similar to common shareholders. However, they also receive a fixed dividend, which makes them akin to bondholders.
Key characteristics of cumulative preferred stock
Cumulative preferred stock stands out among various types of preferred stock due to its unique provision:
- Dividend priority: In the event of missed dividend payments, cumulative preferred shareholders have priority over other classes of preferred stockholders and common shareholders.
- Dividend reliability: This type of preferred stock ensures that all owed dividends, even those missed in the past, will be paid to shareholders.
Comparison with non-cumulative preferred stock
Non-cumulative preferred stock, in contrast, does not offer the same dividend guarantees. If a company misses dividend payments for non-cumulative preferred stock, shareholders simply miss out on those payments. This distinction makes cumulative preferred stock an attractive option for investors who value consistent dividend income.
How cumulative preferred stock works
Let’s explore how cumulative preferred stock works through an example:
Imagine a company issues cumulative preferred stock with a par value of $10,000 and an annual payment rate of 6%. In a challenging economic environment, the company can only afford to pay half of the dividend, resulting in an owed amount of $300 per share to the cumulative preferred shareholder.
The following year, with the economy deteriorating further, the company cannot pay any dividends. Consequently, it owes the shareholder $900 per share.
In the third year, when the economy improves, the company resumes dividend payments. Cumulative preferred stock shareholders will receive the $900 in arrears, in addition to the current dividend of $600. Only after all cumulative shareholders have received their $1,500 per share will the company consider paying dividends to other classes of shareholders.
Risk factors of cumulative preferred stock
While cumulative preferred stock offers dividend reliability to investors, it usually comes with a lower payment rate compared to non-cumulative preferred stock. The reduced cost of capital is a significant advantage for companies that issue cumulative preferred stock. However, non-cumulative preferred stock might be issued only by well-established, blue-chip companies with a strong dividend history to avoid increasing the cost of capital.
Pros and cons of cumulative preferred stock
Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.
- Reliable dividend payments: Cumulative preferred stock guarantees dividend payments, providing income stability to investors.
- Priority claim: Cumulative preferred shareholders are paid ahead of other preferred stockholders and common shareholders.
- Lower payment rate: Cumulative preferred stock typically offers a lower payment rate compared to non-cumulative preferred stock.
- Risk to companies: Companies issuing cumulative preferred stock may face increased costs of capital.
Preferred stock types
Preferred stocks come in various forms, each with its unique features. While cumulative preferred stock is known for its dividend reliability, it’s essential to understand the other types available.
1. Non-cumulative preferred stock
Non-cumulative preferred stock, as briefly mentioned earlier, differs significantly from cumulative preferred stock. It doesn’t guarantee the payment of missed dividends. If a company misses a dividend payment, non-cumulative preferred shareholders simply lose out on that payment.
2. Participating preferred stock
Participating preferred stock is a more complex class of preferred stock. It allows shareholders to receive additional dividends beyond the fixed rate if the company performs exceptionally well. This participation feature can be an attractive prospect for investors.
3. Convertible preferred stock
Convertible preferred stock gives shareholders the option to convert their preferred shares into common shares of the company. This feature can provide flexibility to investors, especially if the company’s common stock performs well.
Examples of cumulative preferred stock
Let’s delve into a couple of practical examples to illustrate how cumulative preferred stock operates in various scenarios.
Example 1: Diverse Corporation’s cumulative preferred stock
Diverse Corporation issues cumulative preferred stock with a par value of $20,000 and an annual payment rate of 5%. In a challenging economic environment, the company can only pay 60% of the expected dividend, resulting in an owed amount of $2,000 per share to the cumulative preferred shareholder.
The following year, with the economy facing continued hardships, the company suspends dividend payments entirely, leading to an owed amount of $6,000 per share.
In the third year, as the economy stabilizes, the company resumes dividend payments. Cumulative preferred stock shareholders will receive the $6,000 in arrears, in addition to the current dividend of $1,000. After ensuring that all cumulative shareholders receive their $7,000 per share, the company can consider paying dividends to other classes of shareholders.
Example 2: GrowthTech Inc.’s cumulative preferred stock
GrowthTech Inc. issues cumulative preferred stock with a par value of $15,000 and an annual payment rate of 4%. Due to a significant economic downturn, the company faces financial challenges and misses its dividend payments for two consecutive years, leading to an owed amount of $1,200 per share to the cumulative preferred shareholder.
As the economy gradually improves in the third year, the company resumes dividend payments. Cumulative preferred stock shareholders will receive the $1,200 in arrears, in addition to the current dividend of $600. Once all cumulative shareholders receive their $1,800 per share, the company may consider paying dividends to other classes of shareholders.
Choosing the right preferred stock
Investors and companies need to carefully evaluate their needs and goals when it comes to preferred stock selection. Cumulative preferred stock is a suitable choice for those seeking consistent dividend income. However, it’s crucial to consider factors such as the company’s financial stability and the investor’s risk tolerance.
Considering risk and reward
Investors should weigh the benefits of cumulative preferred stock against the lower payment rate compared to non-cumulative preferred stock. It’s also essential to assess the financial health of the issuing company to ensure the sustainability of dividend payments.
Long-term vs. short-term objectives
Companies, on the other hand, must determine whether they want to attract investors with a long-term commitment to consistent dividend income or those looking for higher yields in the short term. This decision can impact their capital structure and cost of capital.
Cumulative preferred stock is a financial instrument that offers investors a unique advantage in terms of dividend reliability. With the assurance that all owed dividends will be paid, it can be an attractive option for those seeking a stable income stream. However, it’s essential to consider the trade-offs, including the lower payment rate and potential cost implications for companies.
In summary, cumulative preferred stock provides a balance between reliable income for investors and cost-efficiency for issuers, making it a valuable component of the financial market.
Frequently asked questions
What is the key difference between cumulative and non-cumulative preferred stock?
Cumulative preferred stock ensures that all owed dividends, including missed ones, are paid to shareholders. In contrast, non-cumulative preferred stock does not guarantee the payment of missed dividends. If a company misses a dividend payment, non-cumulative preferred shareholders simply miss out on those payments.
How do companies benefit from issuing cumulative preferred stock?
Companies that issue cumulative preferred stock often benefit from a lower cost of capital. This is because the assurance of dividend payments, even if missed in the past, makes the stock more attractive to investors. However, it’s generally blue-chip companies with strong dividend histories that can issue non-cumulative preferred stock without increasing their cost of capital.
Are cumulative preferred stock dividends tax-efficient for investors?
Dividends from cumulative preferred stock may be tax-efficient for some investors. These dividends often receive preferential tax treatment, such as a lower tax rate. However, the tax implications can vary based on an individual’s tax situation and local tax laws. It’s advisable for investors to consult with a tax professional for personalized guidance.
Can cumulative preferred stock be converted into common stock?
Cumulative preferred stock is typically not convertible into common stock. Unlike convertible preferred stock, which offers this feature, cumulative preferred stock is designed to provide reliable dividend income without the option for conversion.
What are the key considerations for investors when choosing cumulative preferred stock?
When selecting cumulative preferred stock, investors should weigh the benefits of reliable dividend payments against the lower payment rate compared to non-cumulative preferred stock. Additionally, they should assess the financial health of the issuing company to ensure the sustainability of dividend payments. Investors should also consider their risk tolerance and investment goals to make informed decisions.
- Cumulative preferred stock guarantees all owed dividends to shareholders, providing a reliable income source.
- It has priority over other preferred stock classes and common shareholders in receiving dividend payments.
- Companies that issue cumulative preferred stock may benefit from a lower cost of capital.
- Investors should carefully weigh the pros and cons of cumulative preferred stock to make informed decisions.
View article sources
- Statement of Designation of the Cumulative Preferred Shares – SEC.gov
- Use of cumulative preferred stock in tier 1 capital of bank … – Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
- Preferred stock – Wikipedia
- Preferred Stock: What you need to know – Cowrywise Blog Cowrywise
- Cumulative Preferred Stock | Definition, Types, Pros, and … – Finance Strategists