What is Noncumulative Stock? How It Operates, Differences from Cumulative Stock, and Investment Insights


Noncumulative stock, a variant of preferred stock, withholds unpaid dividends from investors when the corporation decides not to pay. This article delves into the intricacies of noncumulative stock, exploring its features, comparing it with cumulative stock, and dissecting the distinctions between common and preferred stock. Additionally, we examine the relationship between convertible bonds and preferred stock, providing a comprehensive guide to help investors navigate the complexities of this financial instrument.

What is noncumulative stock?

Noncumulative stock, a subset of preferred stock, operates on the principle of withholding unpaid or omitted dividends from investors. When a corporation opts not to distribute dividends in a particular year, investors forfeit the right to claim any of the missed dividends in the future. This unique characteristic sets noncumulative stock apart from its counterpart, cumulative stock.

How noncumulative differs from cumulative stock

While noncumulative stock does not entitle investors to claim missed dividends, cumulative stock operates differently. In cases where a corporation skips dividend payments, cumulative stockholders retain the right to receive those missed dividends in subsequent profitable years. The decision between noncumulative and cumulative stock depends on an investor’s risk tolerance and preference for consistent dividend income.

Preferred stock: A comparative analysis

Companies issue common stock, preferred stock, or a combination of both to raise capital. Preferred stock takes precedence over common shares in the event of bankruptcy, providing a safety net for investors. Furthermore, preferred stocks come with predetermined dividend rates, offering a reliable income stream to investors, especially in profitable years.

Distinguishing features of common and preferred stock

Preferred stocks, akin to bonds, exhibit stability but may not fully capitalize on substantial company growth. Common shareholders, on the other hand, benefit from voting rights and have the potential to reap substantial rewards during periods of company expansion. Investors often face the choice between stability and growth potential when deciding between common and preferred stock.

Convertible bonds: A hybrid investment

Corporate bonds sometimes include a conversion feature, allowing bondholders to convert their bonds into a specific number of shares of either common or preferred stock. This unique characteristic provides bondholders with the flexibility to transform a debt investment into an equity position. For instance, an investor holding a convertible bond might have the option to convert it into a predetermined number of shares of preferred stock.

The mechanics of convertible bonds

Convertible bonds offer investors the potential for capital appreciation if the underlying stock experiences growth. This dual nature of providing fixed-income through bonds and the potential for equity participation makes convertible bonds an attractive hybrid investment. Investors considering convertible bonds should weigh the benefits of fixed income against the potential for capital gains.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Noncumulative stock provides flexibility for corporations in dividend payments.
  • Investors in noncumulative stock may benefit from higher potential returns in profitable years.
  • Preferred stocks offer a safety net for investors in bankruptcy scenarios.
  • Convertible bonds provide a unique blend of fixed income and potential for equity participation.
  • Noncumulative stock may be less attractive to risk-averse investors.
  • During unprofitable years, investors in noncumulative stock receive no dividends.
  • Preferred stocks may not fully capitalize on substantial company growth.
  • Convertible bonds carry the risk of potential dilution of equity if the conversion option is exercised.

Frequently asked questions

What are the advantages of noncumulative stock for corporations?

Noncumulative stock provides flexibility for corporations in managing dividend payments. If a company faces an unprofitable year, it can choose not to pay dividends without accumulating a future obligation to stockholders.

Do noncumulative stock investors have any recourse for missed dividends?

No, investors in noncumulative stock do not have the right to claim missed dividends. Once dividends are omitted, investors forfeit any future entitlement to those unpaid amounts.

How do preferred stocks behave in bankruptcy situations?

Preferred stocks take precedence over common shares in bankruptcy scenarios. If a company liquidates its assets, preferred shareholders have a higher claim to recover their investments compared to common stockholders.

Are there tax implications for investors in noncumulative stock?

Yes, investors in noncumulative stock should be aware that the lack of accumulated dividends may have tax implications. It’s advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand the specific tax treatment of noncumulative stock earnings.

Can noncumulative stockholders participate in voting rights?

Noncumulative stockholders typically do not have voting rights. Unlike common shareholders, their influence on corporate decisions may be limited, emphasizing the trade-off between stability and participation in decision-making.

Key takeaways

  • Noncumulative stock does not pay missed dividends to investors.
  • Cumulative stock, in contrast, entitles investors to claim missed dividends.
  • Preferred stocks offer advantages in bankruptcy scenarios but may not benefit significantly from company growth.
  • Convertible bonds allow bondholders to convert debt investments into shares of stock.
  • Investors should carefully consider their risk tolerance and investment objectives when choosing between noncumulative and cumulative stock.
View article sources
  1. – Non-Cumulative Quantity Discount
  2. LII Wex cumulative sentence – Legal Information Institute
  3. non-cumulative perpetual preferred stock, series b – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  4. Non-Cumulative Preference Shares, Series A – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  5. Preference Equity Redemption Cumulative Stock (PERCS) – SuperMoney