What is the Dividend Coverage Ratio?
The Dividend Coverage Ratio (DCR) measures the number of times that a company can pay shareholders its announced dividend using its net income.
- What is the definition of the dividend coverage ratio?
- Why is the dividend coverage ratio calculated by shareholders?
- What formula calculates the dividend coverage ratio?
- What is considered to be a “good” dividend coverage ratio?
Table of Contents
Dividend Coverage Ratio Definition
The dividend coverage ratio, or “dividend cover” for short, states how many times a company’s dividends can be paid using its net income.
The question answered by calculating the dividend coverage ratio is, “Is the company capable of continuing to pay out its dividend to shareholders into the foreseeable future?”
Two common metrics tracked by shareholders are the dividend payout ratio and dividend yield, which measure the proportion of a company’s net income paid out as dividends and the dividend per share (DPS) relative to its latest closing share price, respectively.
- Dividend Payout Ratio = Dividend Per Share (DPS) ÷ Earnings Per Share (EPS)
- Dividend Yield = Dividend Per Share (DPS) ÷ Share Price
However, the dividend coverage ratio is usually used to determine the risk of the investor no longer receiving a dividend, which is conceptually similar to the interest coverage ratio for debt holders.
But unlike interest expense, a company is not obligated to pay out a dividend to shareholders, i.e. it cannot default on a discretionary payment to shareholders.
Dividend Coverage Ratio Formula
To calculate the dividend coverage ratio from the perspective of a common shareholder, the first step is to subtract the preferred dividend amount from net income.
Thus, common shareholders cannot be issued their dividend unless preferred shareholders are first compensated in full.
After net income is adjusted for preferred dividends, the next step is to divide by the dividend amount attributable to common shareholders.
Dividend Coverage Ratio (DCR) Formula
- Dividend Coverage Ratio = (Net Income – Preferred Dividend) ÷ Common Dividend
Interpreting the Dividend Coverage Ratio
Since the dividend coverage ratio calculates the number of times that a company’s net earnings can meet its dividend amount, a higher ratio is “better.”
- DCR <1.0x → Net income is insufficient to pay the dividend
- DCR >1.0x → Net income is adequate to pay the dividend
- DCR >2.0x → Net income can pay the dividend more than twice
Generally, a DCR above 2.0x is perceived as the minimum “floor” before shareholders should be concerned regarding the sustainability of a company’s future dividends.
Dividend Coverage Ratio Calculator – Excel Template
We’ll now move to a modeling exercise, which you can access by filling out the form below.
Dividend Coverage Ratio Example Calculation
Suppose a company reported $25 million in net income with a longstanding annual dividend of $6 million announced to common shareholders.
If the dividend paid to preferred stockholders was $1 million, what is the dividend coverage ratio?
After subtracting the preferred dividend from net income, we’re left with $24 million of net income that could hypothetically be distributed to common shareholders.
With that said, the next step is to divide the leftover net income by the annual dividend to common shareholders to arrive at 4.0x as the dividend coverage ratio.
- Dividend Coverage Ratio = $24 million ÷ $6 million
- Dividend Coverage Ratio = 4.0x
Given the 4.0x dividend coverage ratio, the company’s net income is sufficient to pay its annual dividend four times, so common shareholders are unlikely to be concerned about an upcoming reduction in their dividend payments.