Dividend Policy of German Firms

M. Goergen, L.D.R. Renneboog, L. Correia Da Silva

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paperOther research output

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Abstract

German firms pay out a lower proportion of their cash flows than UK and US firms.However, on a published profits basis, the pattern is reversed.Company law provisions and accounting policies account for these conflicting results.A partial adjustment model is used to estimate the implicit target payout ratio and the speed of adjustment of dividends towards a long run target payout ratio. We find that German firms do not base their dividend decisions on published earnings, but on cash flows.The reasons for the use of a cash flow-based payout policy are: (i) published earnings figures do not correctly reflect corporate performance as German firms tend to retain a significant part of their earnings to build up legal reserves, (ii) the conservative nature of German accounting policies, (iii) published earnings are subject to a higher degree of smoothing than cash flows.Regarding the speed of adjustment of dividends towards the long term target payout ratio, UK and US companies only slowly adjust their dividend policy whereas German are more willing to cut the dividend in the wake of a temporary decrease in profitability.This causes a higher degree of 'discreteness' in the dividends-pershare time series as opposed to the 'smoothness' (i.e., frequent annual small adjustments in the dividend per share) observed in the US and the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherFinance
Number of pages34
Volume2004-122
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper
Volume2004-122

Fingerprint

Dividend policy
Dividends
Cash flow
Payout
Accounting policy
Speed of adjustment
Payout policy
Profitability
Smoothing
Profit
Proportion
Company law
Partial adjustment model
Corporate performance

Keywords

  • Dividend policy
  • payout policy
  • Lintner dividend model
  • dividend smoothing
  • partial adjustment model
  • corporate governance

Cite this

Goergen, M., Renneboog, L. D. R., & Correia Da Silva, L. (2004). Dividend Policy of German Firms. (CentER Discussion Paper; Vol. 2004-122). Tilburg: Finance.
Goergen, M. ; Renneboog, L.D.R. ; Correia Da Silva, L. / Dividend Policy of German Firms. Tilburg : Finance, 2004. (CentER Discussion Paper).
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Goergen, M, Renneboog, LDR & Correia Da Silva, L 2004 'Dividend Policy of German Firms' CentER Discussion Paper, vol. 2004-122, Finance, Tilburg.

Dividend Policy of German Firms. / Goergen, M.; Renneboog, L.D.R.; Correia Da Silva, L.

Tilburg : Finance, 2004. (CentER Discussion Paper; Vol. 2004-122).

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paperOther research output

TY - UNPB

T1 - Dividend Policy of German Firms

AU - Goergen, M.

AU - Renneboog, L.D.R.

AU - Correia Da Silva, L.

N1 - Pagination: 34

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Y1 - 2004

N2 - German firms pay out a lower proportion of their cash flows than UK and US firms.However, on a published profits basis, the pattern is reversed.Company law provisions and accounting policies account for these conflicting results.A partial adjustment model is used to estimate the implicit target payout ratio and the speed of adjustment of dividends towards a long run target payout ratio. We find that German firms do not base their dividend decisions on published earnings, but on cash flows.The reasons for the use of a cash flow-based payout policy are: (i) published earnings figures do not correctly reflect corporate performance as German firms tend to retain a significant part of their earnings to build up legal reserves, (ii) the conservative nature of German accounting policies, (iii) published earnings are subject to a higher degree of smoothing than cash flows.Regarding the speed of adjustment of dividends towards the long term target payout ratio, UK and US companies only slowly adjust their dividend policy whereas German are more willing to cut the dividend in the wake of a temporary decrease in profitability.This causes a higher degree of 'discreteness' in the dividends-pershare time series as opposed to the 'smoothness' (i.e., frequent annual small adjustments in the dividend per share) observed in the US and the UK.

AB - German firms pay out a lower proportion of their cash flows than UK and US firms.However, on a published profits basis, the pattern is reversed.Company law provisions and accounting policies account for these conflicting results.A partial adjustment model is used to estimate the implicit target payout ratio and the speed of adjustment of dividends towards a long run target payout ratio. We find that German firms do not base their dividend decisions on published earnings, but on cash flows.The reasons for the use of a cash flow-based payout policy are: (i) published earnings figures do not correctly reflect corporate performance as German firms tend to retain a significant part of their earnings to build up legal reserves, (ii) the conservative nature of German accounting policies, (iii) published earnings are subject to a higher degree of smoothing than cash flows.Regarding the speed of adjustment of dividends towards the long term target payout ratio, UK and US companies only slowly adjust their dividend policy whereas German are more willing to cut the dividend in the wake of a temporary decrease in profitability.This causes a higher degree of 'discreteness' in the dividends-pershare time series as opposed to the 'smoothness' (i.e., frequent annual small adjustments in the dividend per share) observed in the US and the UK.

KW - Dividend policy

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KW - dividend smoothing

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Goergen M, Renneboog LDR, Correia Da Silva L. Dividend Policy of German Firms. Tilburg: Finance. 2004. (CentER Discussion Paper).