Growth Expectations, Dividend Yields, and Future Stock Returns
58 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2014 Last revised: 20 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 2014
According to the dynamic version of the Gordon growth model, the long-run expected return on stocks, stock yield, is the sum of the dividend yield on stocks plus some weighted average of expected future growth rates in dividends. We construct a measure of stock yield as a model-imposed affine combination of dividend yield and an expected dividend growth proxy measured from sell-side analysts' near-term earnings forecasts. Stock yield predicts US stock index returns well, with an out-of-sample R-squared that is consistently above 2% at monthly frequency over our sample period. When both dividend yield and expected dividend growth are used as explanatory variables in a multivariate regression without any coefficient restriction to predict future stock returns, the in-sample R-squared is almost the same as that for stock yield, but the out-of-sample R-squared is only about half of that for stock yield, which suggests that dividend yield, expected dividend growth and expected future returns are tied together through the present-value relation. Stock yield also predicts future stock index returns in other G7 countries and returns of US stock portfolios formed by sorting stocks based on firm characteristics, at various horizons. The findings are consistent with a single dominant factor driving expected returns on stocks over different holding periods. That single factor extracted from the cross section of stock yields using the Kelly and Pruitt (2013) partial regressions method predicts stock index returns better. The performance of the Binsbergen and Koijen (2010) latent factor model for forecasting stock returns improves significantly when stock yield is included as an imperfect observation of expected return on stocks. Consistent with folk wisdom, stock returns are more predictable coming out of a recession. Our measure performs as well in predicting stock returns as the implied cost of capital, another common stock yield measure that uses additional information.
JEL Classification: G12; G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation