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Preferred Dividends: Preference Dividend Explained

The capacity to hold different classes of stock is one of the most appealing features of regular companies. Due to their unique advantages, diverse investors may be drawn to different stock types. There are common benefits for every kind of stock, while the specifics of each type’s rights, preferences, and limitations will be outlined in your corporate charter or bylaws. Specifically, preferred dividends—a traditional perk of preferred stocks—can be an excellent choice for more risk-averse investors.

This article discusses preference share dividends, including their definition, characteristics, computation, and example. It also discusses dividends in arrears.

What are Preferred Dividends?

Many ask, ‘What are preferred dividends?’. So, we are here to explain.

Preferred dividends are payments to shareholders, as remuneration for holding preference shares. A dividend is an amount paid to shareholders from a company’s profits.

Businesses prefer paying dividends to preferred shareholders above equity owners after making payments to creditors. The preference share dividend rates are predetermined and declared and typically stay the same for the duration of the preference shares. Additionally, corporations must set aside money for dividend arrears.

Dividend rates on preferred stocks are typically substantially greater than those on regular stocks. That’s a major factor in why preferred stocks have that designation. Preferred stock is a useful tool for startups to attract investors who might otherwise be hesitant to take on the risk of investing in a new firm because of its alluring dividends and guaranteed payout.

Types of Preferred Dividends

There are two variations of preferred dividends: cumulative and non-cumulative. The main difference between these two kinds is how neglected profits are dealt with.

1. Cumulative Preferred Dividends

Cumulative preferred dividends should be settled before the organisation can deliver profits to ordinary investors.

If a company misses a cumulative preferred dividend payment, the unpaid amount accumulates as arrears. These arrears should be settled entirely sometime before average investors receive profits.

For instance, an organisation with cumulative preferred dividends of $5 per share might miss two quarterly instalments. Then, it currently owes $10 per share in arrears. These $10 in missed preferred dividends must be paid to preferred shareholders before paying common stockholders.

2. Non-cumulative Preferred Dividends

Non-cumulative preferred dividends do not accumulate if the company fails to pay them. Companies can skip payments on non-cumulative preferred dividends without any obligation to pay later.

However, they still cannot pay ordinary stock dividends. To do that, all current preferred dividends should be paid. This flexibility allows companies to conserve cash flow during difficult times. One way to do this is to skip non-cumulative preferred dividend payments.

However, it also increases risk for preferred shareholders, who may miss out on income. Understanding this fundamental difference in dividend types is crucial for preferred stock investors.

Calculating Preferred Dividends

Knowing how to calculate preferred dividends is necessary for investors. It helps them understand the expected growth from their investment. The calculation relies primarily on the stated dividend rate of the favourable stock.

The profit rate is generally expressed as a percentage of the standard or expressed worth of the preferred shares. To calculate preferred dividends per share, you need to multiply this profit rate by the standard value. For instance, if an organisation’s preferred stock has a $100 standard worth and a 5% profit rate. 

Preferred Dividends Formula

The following is a straightforward preferred dividends formula for figuring out preferred dividends on preferred stock:

Par Value x Dividend Rate x Total Number of Preferred Stocks = Preferred Dividends

Preferred shareholders must review the prospectus if they wish to purchase preferred equities.

 First, they have to recognise two fundamental facts:

  1. What is the stock’s par value?
  2. What is the dividend rate?

Knowing these two fundamentals will enable them to multiply them and determine how much they will earn each year’s end.

Preferred stocks have the significant benefit of being similar to fixed instruments. A yearly fixed payout is guaranteed.

Also, you will be given priority over equity investors if the business files for bankruptcy at any point. If the company files for bankruptcy before giving equity owners their money back, you will get any money due to you.

The preferred dividend per share must be multiplied by the number of shares once you have determined how to compute it. Additionally, you would be aware of your annual income.

It doesn’t matter what technique is implied. Understanding how to calculate preferred dividends accurately is crucial for investors. It is to compute their expected income growth. This also helps to analyse whether a preferred stock investment is worthwhile. It is based on the dividend payments.

Preferred Stock Dividend Yield

Preferred stock dividend yield is the every-year dividend payment on a preferred stock expressed as a percentage of the company’s current market price.

The formula to calculate a preferred stock’s dividend yield is: 

Annual Dividend Payment / Preferred Stock Price) 100% times

If a preferred stock, had an annual dividend of $2 per share and its current market price was $50 per share, then the preferred stock dividend yield would be as follows:

Preferred Stock Dividend Yield = ($2 / $50) × 100% = 4%

This means that for every $100 invested in the preferred stock at its current market price, the investor would receive a $4 annual dividend payment. When evaluating the income potential of owning preferred stocks compared to their market value, investors want to consider the dividend yield on preferred stocks.

Pros and Cons of Preferred Dividends

Investing resources in preferred stocks that pay preferred dividends has two benefits. It also has some hindrances that investors ought to consider painstakingly.


  • One of the benefits of preferred dividends is that they are in greater demand than average stock profits. This implies that an organisation should pay dividends to favoured investors.
  • This should be done before delivering any profits to ordinary investors. This priority status provides a greater degree of income security for preferred stockholders.
  • Moreover, preferred dividends frequently offer higher profit yields than average stock profits from a similar organisation. This can provide a more alluring stream of growth for financial backers looking for consistent payouts.


Preferred dividends also have some key disadvantages. Such as:

  • Unlike common stock, dividends have limited upside potential.
  • The preferred dividend amount remains locked even if an organisation’s share surges. It does not grow along with the profits. Moreover, in bankruptcy or liquidation, favoured profits may not be paid by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Ordinary investors have a higher focus on an organisation’s growth and pay. It is higher than favoured investors in such circumstances.
  • From a tax perspective, preferred dividends can also be less efficient for some investors. Preferred dividends are treated as regular income and charged at the financial investor’s ordinary tax rate, unlike qualified average stock profits, which are mostly charged at particular rates.

Tax Treatment of Preferred Dividends

For tax purposes, the IRS treats preferred dividends as standard pay. This implies they are charged at the financial backer’s average, negligible annual expense rate. This can disadvantage those in higher tax brackets.

Conversely, qualified average stock profits might qualify for particular expense rates. These are usually lower than the standard income tax rate. However, some preferred dividends could qualify for these lower qualified dividend tax rates.

Whether preferred dividends are taxed at the qualified dividend rates depends on factors such as the company’s sources of income and tax status. Companies that derive most of their income from specific qualified sources may be able to designate preferred dividends as qualified.


In summary, preferred dividends give investors a higher and safer revenue stream. Compared with debt securities, preferred dividends provide investors with higher returns. Some investors park their money in preferred stocks to benefit from set returns. Preferred stock is issued by the corporation to prevent further intervention from stockholders and to preserve voting rights.

However, preference shares often have less of a voice in business decisions and are less likely to see a large price increase. After weighing the benefits and drawbacks of investing, you may decide.


What distinguishes preferred dividends from ordinary dividends?

Preference shareholders receive dividends known as preferred dividends, while equity stockholders receive dividends known as common dividends.

Are dividends on preferred stocks growing?

Even in cases where the business records exceptional earnings, preferred stock dividends often stay the same and do not increase.

What makes businesses sell preferred stock?

Businesses can issue preferred dividends to raise money without changing the debt-to-equity ratio or reducing equity.

What happens to the matured preferred stock?

Preferred stock typically has an infinite lifespan because it lacks a set maturity date.

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