Difference Between Cumulative and Non-cumulative Preferred Stocks

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Cumulative and Non-cumulative Preferred Stocks

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Stock (sometimes known as capital stock) is a financial term that refers to all of the shares that make up the ownership of a business or company. In proportion to the total number of shares, a single share of stock indicates fractional ownership of a firm. The shareholder (stockholder) is usually entitled to a portion of the company's earnings, proceeds from asset liquidation (after all senior claims, such as secured and unsecured debt, have been discharged), or voting power, which is usually divided in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Certain classes of stock, for example, may be issued with or without voting rights, with or without increased voting rights, or with or without a priority to profit or liquidation proceeds over other shareholders.

Individual stocks or stock exchanges can be bought and sold, and governments usually regulate such transactions to prevent fraud, protect investors, and promote the overall economy. Stocks are deposited in an electronic format known as a Demat account with depositories. Existing shareholders' ownership and rights are diminished when a corporation issues new shares in exchange for cash to sustain or grow the business. Companies can also buy back stock, allowing investors to repay their initial investment as well as any capital gains from subsequent stock price increases. Many corporations provide stock options as part of employee remuneration, but these options do not reflect ownership; rather, they represent the right to purchase ownership at a predetermined price at a later date. If the option is exercised while the market price is greater than the promised price, the employees will receive a windfall since they will pocket the difference if they promptly sell the stock (minus taxes).

Owning stocks or shares in a firm can provide several advantages, including the following:

  1. Asset-based claim-A shareholder has a claim on the assets of the corporation in which they own stock. The claims on assets, on the other hand, are only important when the corporation is about to be liquidated. In that case, all of the company's assets and obligations are totaled, and the shareholders can claim whatever is left after all creditors have been paid. Because creditors are paid before equity holders, and if there are no assets remaining after the debt is paid, equity investors may receive nothing, equity investments are considered higher risk than debt (credit, loans, and bonds).
  2. Capital gains and dividends- If earnings are available, dividends may be distributed to stockholders. The corporation can choose to pay out a specific amount in dividends over a specific period.
  3. Voter turnouts in the total-Another key advantage of stock ownership are shareholders' power to vote for management changes if the firm is mishandled. Annual meetings of a corporation's executive board are held to report on the company's overall performance. They include details on prospective operational initiatives as well as managerial decisions. Investors and stockholders can negotiate changes if they disagree with a choice.
  4. Liability restrictions-Finally, the nature of ownership is constrained when an individual owns shares in a corporation. Shareholders are not personally liable for any losses if the company goes bankrupt.

The Dangers of Investing in Stocks

Along with the advantages of stock ownership, investors must also consider the following risks:

  1. Monetary loss-There is no certainty that the price of a stock will rise. An investor may purchase shares at $50 at an IPO, only to have them drop to $20 as the firm performs poorly, for example.
  2. There is no preference for liquidation. -Creditors are paid before stockholders when a company is liquidated. A corporation will usually liquidate when it has very few assets remaining to operate with. In most circumstances, this means that if creditors are paid off, there will be no assets available for equity holders.
  3. Voting power is irrelevant-While retail investors have voting rights at executive board meetings, in theory, they typically have very little impact or power in practice. At shareholder meetings, the outcome of all votes is usually determined by the majority shareholder.

Difference Between Cumulative and Non- Cumulative Preferred Stocks in Tabular Form

Preferred stock is a dependable source of capital for a corporation or business. It's a type of stock that doesn't allow you to vote. It is a safer investment than regular stocks. During the dividend payout, preferred investors are given priority over common stockholders. Cumulative preferred equities and non-cumulative preferred stocks are the two forms of preferred securities. The fundamental difference between cumulative and non-cumulative preferred equities is that cumulative preferred stocks guarantee payment of all dividends, both historical and current, at the moment of dividend declaration, whereas non-cumulative preferred stocks only pay current dividends.

Parameters Of Comparison    Cumulative Preferred  Stocks    Non-Cumulative Preferred    Stocks
Definition This is a sort of preferred stock that stipulates that the company must pay all dividends. Preferred stock that lacks a clause that allows the company to pay full dividends.
Payment of previous dividends All unpaid dividends are accrued and paid at the time of declaration. Pays only the current dividends at the moment of declaration; no unpaid or missed dividends are paid.
Priority of investors Common stockholders are paid first, then cumulative stockholders. Non-cumulative stockholders are paid before common stockholders if a dividend is issued.
Liquidation Higher Lower
Valuable Highly regarded Not as highly regarded

What are Cumulative Preferred Stocks?

Cumulative preferred stocks establish arrangements for the payment of missing dividends and ensure that all of the company's dividends are paid to cumulative preferred shareholders. It's a sort of preferred stock, sometimes known as a preference share. Priority is given to cumulative preferred stockholders, who are paid before other common stockholders. Its dividend yield is set. In most cases, the dividend is paid in an interval format. The dividend may be paid to cumulative preferred stockholders before the investors get their payment.

Dividends can be accumulated in cumulative preferred stocks until they are paid out. It gives you the right to collect a set amount of dividends each year. Even if the dividend is not paid for whatever reason, such as a crisis or a downturn, it will be saved for a later period. No dividend is paid if no dividend is declared. Cumulative preferred stocks give stockholders peace of mind by guaranteeing dividend payments. These stocks are held in perpetuity and do not allow voting rights to be exercised. The rate of return is determined by the market rate at the time the stock is issued. By multiplying the dividend rate by the par value, the yearly dividend can be computed.

In a word, cumulative preference shares are normal preference shares with an added benefit. Furthermore, even if the issuing company has previously failed to pay dividends, the holders of these shares are entitled to them. Businesses may be unable to make a profit for a variety of reasons. They may be required to pay no dividends for some time or merely a fraction of profits as dividends due to a shortage of profitability. Cumulative preference owners, unlike equity shareholders, have the right to receive dividends even in this situation.

Consider the case of ABC Ltd., which has issued cumulative preference shares with a face value of Rs. 100 per share to the general public. Every quarter of the fiscal year, the corporation guarantees to pay 10% of the share’s face value in dividends. The corporation has been paying a quarterly dividend of Rs. 10 per share for the past few years, as promised. However, due to a shift in market conditions, the company was unable to generate sufficient revenue and ended up in the red. In these conditions, the corporation failed to pay dividends to its shareholders for three quarters of a fiscal year, including cumulative preference investors.

Although the company only started making money in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, it now has enough revenue to pay preference shareholders’ dividends as promised. Things start to become intriguing at this point. Because cumulative preference shareholders are entitled to dividends regularly, including previously missed payouts, the corporation would have to pay all unpaid dividends (i.e., the Rs. 30 per share dividend arrears) before paying the Rs. 10 per share dividend for this quarter. If there are sufficient earnings after the corporation has paid out all of the arrears, it will give cumulative preference shareholders the current quarter's dividends.

What are Non-Cumulative Preferred Stocks?

A type of preferred stock is non-cumulative preferred stock. There is no provision for the payment of unpaid dividends in it. Stakeholders have no right to demand omitted or underpaid equities if the company suffers a crisis or downturn and decides not to pay dividends. These stocks' dividend rates are predetermined. Non-cumulative preferred stocks allow firms to avoid paying dividends and are not obligated to shareholders. The corporation is only accountable for the current year's dividends. It puts stakeholders in a position where they are unsure whether or not dividends will be paid, posing a financial risk.

When it comes to dividend payments, non-cumulative preferred stockholders are granted precedence and preference over other common stockholders. If the company or corporation is experiencing financial difficulties, the board of directors has the authority to omit, reduce, or even suspend dividends. In that circumstance, the investors have no choice and their payout is permanently lost. When the next dividend is declared, the previously omitted dividends are not included in the arrears. The non-cumulative stock investment allows the corporation to be more adaptable and flexible in its cash flow management. The ability to suspend dividends without penalty provides the corporation with greater financial control.

Noncumulative preferred stock permits the issuing business to skip dividends and cancel its commitment to pay those dividends in the future. This means that stockholders are not entitled to any of the dividends that were not distributed. Generally, the issuing business cannot pay dividends to common stockholders in the same year that it has avoided paying dividends to noncumulative preferred stockholders, albeit this is dependent on the stock's underlying terms. Noncumulative preferred stock is exceedingly uncommon since it puts stockholders in the risky situation of having no guaranteed income stream. Instead, the shares function similarly to common stock, with the board of directors having sole discretion over dividend distribution. Investors can theoretically affect the dividend issue indirectly by choosing a different board of directors. Few corporations issue these kinds of shares, understandably, because investors are unlikely to acquire them unless they are sold at a significant discount.

Assume ABC Company issued a $500 dividend on 1000 non-cumulative preferred stocks with a 5% dividend yield and a $100 par value. Because preferred shareholders have a preference for dividends, they would take the full payout up to their maximum (5 percent of Par), leaving common stockholders without a dividend that year. If the firm announces more dividends this year, the preferred shareholders' preferential rights will be preserved, and they will have first access to the dividends because they have not yet received their entire portion.

Difference Between Cumulative and Non- Cumulative Preferred Stocks in Points

Regular investors receive dividends only when the corporation has cash on hand, whereas preferred stockholders receive guaranteed dividends. This is why, if a company runs into financial difficulties and is unable to pay dividends to any of its owners, preferred stockholder payments are deferred to future years while common stockholder payouts are not paid. This is because the corporation is bound by law to make these payments to preferred investors whenever it has adequate funds. Cumulative preferred stocks get their name from the fact that their owners will receive all pending dividend payments.

  • Non-cumulative equities do not pay any unpaid dividends because cumulative stocks accrue them and pay them when they are announced.
  • A cumulative dividend is required to be paid, whereas a non-cumulative dividend can be lost indefinitely and never be paid.
  • Non-cumulative investors have no right to demand missing or absent dividends in the future, whereas cumulative stockholders do.
  • Cumulative equities are more valuable to investors, whereas non-cumulative stocks are less so.
  • Cumulative preferred equities have a low-risk profile, but non-cumulative preferred stocks have a higher risk profile.


All unpaid dividends are entitled to be received by cumulative preferred stocks. It is a dependable source that is well regarded by investors. When the dividends are issued, the stockholders will receive the promised set amount. All prior unpaid dividends have been accrued and are guaranteed to be paid. Non-cumulative preferred stocks, on the other hand, are not entitled to unpaid dividends. It is unreliable and carries a high level of risk, as the corporation reserves the right to terminate or suspend the shares at any time. There is no provision for the previously missed dividends to be accumulated. Investing in non-cumulative preferred stocks is fraught with risk. Preferred stocks have a steady stream of income. The level of risk is comparable to that of regular stocks and bonds. When dividends are declared, preferred equities pay a fixed sum of annual dividends called the par value. Even if the returns were substantial, the investors would only receive the agreed-upon amount. The preferred investors are paid first, followed by the common stockholders, when dividends are declared. Non-cumulative preferred equities are the only ones that can suspend dividends. It is critical to study and analyze the terms and circumstances, as well as the market value, before investing in any sort of stock, shares, or bonds.


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  3. ^ Moussa, Feras. "Taking a Closer Look at Preferred Equity and Why It's So Powerful in Real Estate". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  4. ^ Zilber, Ariel (2022-06-07). "Elon Musk's threat to nix $44B Twitter deal reportedly halts financing". New York Post. Retrieved 2022-06-07.


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"Difference Between Cumulative and Non-cumulative Preferred Stocks." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 03 Mar. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-cumulative-and-non-cumulative-preferred-stocks-486>.

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