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Understanding Dividend Payout Ratio

03 Oct 2023


Dividend stocks are a great way to earn passive income. They share a portion of the company’s profits with you in the form of cash dividends or stock dividends. If you invest in the best dividend-paying stocks, you can expect to receive higher dividends per share each year. However, some companies do not increase their dividends routinely. 

The dividend decision of a firm depends on many factors, like the availability of funds, profits, industry trends in dividend payment, investment opportunities in hand, the company’s dividend payment history, and Dividend Payout Ratio (DPR). 

Here is a deeper understanding of DPR. 

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What is DPR?

DPR reflects the percentage of net income distributed as dividends to shareholders. It can range anywhere between zero and a hundred. If a company distributes the entire net income amongst the shareholders as dividends, the ratio is a hundred. Similarly, if the company does not pay dividends, the payout ratio is zero.  

Dividend payments help investors assess if the company is earning enough profits to share with its shareholders. They boost the shareholder’s confidence and loyalty to the company. Thus, the ratio is an essential metric for you to determine the company’s financial well-being and potential to generate a steady source of income. 

Generally, companies distribute a portion of their profits to shareholders and retain the balance in their reserves. As the reserves grow, the equity base of a company also enhances, boosting its ability to raise debt. The retention ratio is calculated to measure the earnings a company retains or transfers to reserves. 

Calculation of DPR

The formula to arrive at the DPR is as follows:

  • DPR = Total annual dividend payments / Annual earnings

Another way to calculate DPR is

  • DPR = 1 - Retention ratio

Where retention ratio is calculated with the formula below:

  • Retention ratio = Retained earnings / Net income

Example of DPR

Let’s assume the net profit of a hypothetical ABC company is INR 10,00,000. The company has outstanding shares worth one lakh and paid INR 1,00,000 in dividends to the shareholders last year. 

The calculation of DPR using the formula will be as follows:

DPR = 1,00,000/10,00,000 = 0.1 or 10%

This calculation shows that the company distributed 10% of its net earnings as dividends to shareholders and retained the remaining 90% for different purposes. 

How to analyze DPR?

DPR helps you examine the financial health of a company. If the DPR is high, the company distributes a major part of all its earnings. This is an attractive benefit for shareholders seeking revenue. 

Conversely, if the DPR is low, it means the company is holding on to most of its profits to invest in growth opportunities. This factor is appealing to investors desiring long-term capital gains. 

An important aspect to consider here is that a high DPR isn’t always sustainable, especially if the company is undergoing financial challenges or works in a cyclical industry. Such a company may have to reduce or stop dividend payments, damaging the stock’s price and investor sentiment. 

You can also evaluate a company’s maturity using DPR. 

The DPR for newer, faster-growing companies is likely to be low since they reinvest their earnings to achieve growth and expansion. 

Similarly, a company is growth rate is steady or milder when it is more mature or developed. It can maintain a relatively high DPR because it does not need to dedicate a large portion of its earnings to business expansion.  


DPR is a vital metric, enabling you to assess a company’s financial health and its ability to give you a consistent source of income. It may be different for different companies and industries. Some industries are steady and can pay a steady dividend every year. Others, like the telecom or aviation industry, can face leverage, lowering their potential to distribute dividends. When you understand DPR and other related metrics, you can make more informed invested choices and organise your portfolio for long-term income and growth. 

Find dividend-paying stocks and other investment-related information for every company by trading on Motilal Oswal! 


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