Dividend Behavior and Dividend Signaling
Posted: 16 Aug 2000
We analyze the dividend behavior of the aggregate stock market. We propose a model that assumes managers minimize the costs of adjustment associated with being away from their target dividend payout. The target is expressed as a function of lagged stock prices and permanent earnings, generalizing previous models of dividend behavior. We present a new method for measuring unobserved permanent earnings based on the Kalman filter. Our specification of dividend behavior is strongly supported by the data relative to both alternative models and over time. We find significant evidence of dividend smoothing and dividends conveying information regarding unexpected positive changes in current permanent earnings. We also find that both the speed of adjustment of dividends to target dividends and tests of signaling are sensitive to the specification of the model.
JEL Classification: G35
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