What is an Accelerated Dividend? (Explained)

Most shareholders obtain a company’s shares for these investments’ returns. Usually, these returns come in two forms. The first is the gains in the value of a company’s shares. When investors acquire these instruments, they may expect the price to increase in the future. Once it happens, they dispose of the shares to get again on them.

The second source of income for investors from share investments includes dividends. These returns usually come on a regular schedule. However, some companies may choose not to distribute them. In those cases, the only income investors can get capital gains. Usually, established companies provide dividends regularly, while newer companies prefer to retain more profits.

When companies distribute dividends, several factors may impact investors’ returns. When these factors cause a positive alteration, investors will welcome it. However, these changes may also be adverse, which investors may not prefer. In those cases, companies may seek to change the timing of their dividends to avoid those impacts. Before understanding the concept, it is crucial to look at what dividends are.

What Are Dividends?

Dividends are the distribution of a company’s profits or retained earnings among shareholders. It usually includes the allocation of cash resources to shareholders. However, it may also consist of stock dividends. Either way, dividends provide shareholders with a return on their investment in a company’s shares. It is one of the two primary sources of income from investing in stocks.

The distribution of dividends differs from one company to another. Usually, every company has a dividend policy that dictates how much shareholders will receive in distributions. Companies have a payout ratio which is the percentage of profits that gets distributed among investors. This ratio is the opposite of the retention ratio, which dictates the portion of profits that companies retain.

When companies make profits, they have the option to distribute them wholly among shareholders. However, most companies have plans or projects for which they may need finance. Therefore, these companies will retain more profits as these represent a source of internal finance. Since this source is the most inexpensive option to fund operations, it is highly preferable for companies.

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Overall, dividends involve the distribution of profits or retained earnings. Usually, these come from the annual or quarterly earnings that companies generate. In some cases, companies may also use their retained earning reserves to make these distributions. Either way, dividends allow shareholders to earn through investment in shares. However, a company’s dividend policy plays a significant role in what these dividends are.

What are Accelerated Dividends?

Several factors impact the distribution of dividends to shareholders. Usually, these factors include internal aspects that companies decide through their policies. However, factors that are beyond a company’s control may also exist. As mentioned, these factors may affect the dividends that shareholders receive positively or adversely. For positive changes, companies don’t usually make any alterations.

However, companies may prefer to pay dividends before those occur when it comes to adverse impacts. In other words, when imminent alterations occur to the treatment of dividends, companies may get ahead of them. Therefore, accelerated dividends include special distributions made by a company before a change occurs in the dividend treatment.

As the name suggests, accelerated dividends occur ahead of time. For most companies, the objective behind making such distributions is to avoid unfavorable impacts on shareholders. For example, companies will pay dividends before adverse changes in dividend taxation rates affect shareholders. Primarily, this strategy allows shareholders to avoid any significant losses.

However, accelerated dividends also help companies. Some companies use these dividends to drive growth. They do so by signaling to investors that the company is making dividend payments ahead of its schedule. This way, it implies that the company has excess reserves that it can distribute in the market. This way, companies can use accelerated dividend payments to benefit from the special distribution.

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Overall, an accelerated dividend is a distribution of reserves before a forecasted change in dividends occurs. Usually, companies use it to avoid any adverse changes in the treatment of dividends. This process allows shareholders to receive dividends before they get impacted adversely. However, companies may also use it to manipulate the market perception of their operations and send a positive signal.

How Do Accelerated Dividends Work?

The process of accelerated dividends works similarly to regular dividends. However, this dividend occurs before a regular schedule or forecasted distribution. Usually, companies pay dividends regularly, either annually or quarterly. Most shareholders and investors understand when these dividends occur and look forward to receiving them.

However, some changes may impact the treatment of these dividends. In these cases, companies will seek to avoid unfavorable shareholders’ impacts. Therefore, they will accelerate the payment of these dividends. The primary objective of these dividends is to protect shareholders and mitigate the adverse effects of changes in dividend policies.

Accelerated dividends occur before the regular schedule. Therefore, they usually employ a company’s reserves rather than its profits. Companies utilize the option to make early payments to avoid adverse changes. These changes may occur, for example, when the dividend tax rates may increase in the future. Therefore, through accelerated dividends, companies will ensure any distributions fall before these changes take place.

Companies may also utilize accelerated dividends when no adverse changes may exist in the future. Since these dividends involve the distribution of reserves before expected, they can send a positive signal to the market. Usually, it implies the company has enough capital reserves to pay out to its shareholders. Therefore, the market may perceive it as a significant performance boost for the underlying company.

Accelerated dividends also go through the same process as normal dividends do. Therefore, it involves the management suggesting a distribution of reserves among shareholders. Next, the board of directors will approve this proposal and make it official. Once the approval comes from the board, the company will announce these dividends. Eventually, the proposed amount will get distributed among shareholders.

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What are the limitations of Accelerated Dividends?

Accelerated dividends may cause some liabilities for companies. Apart from those liabilities, it may also impact investors and shareholders adversely. Usually, investors appreciate receiving accelerated or any dividends. However, some shareholders may also prefer for companies to retain those reserves. These are investors who seek capital gains rather than receiving distributions.

The above investors usually prefer for companies to reinvest the amount into new projects. This way, the underlying companies can expand their operations. Similarly, they can use those dividends to acquire new subsidiaries or businesses, engage in buybacks, make investments, etc. Through these, their performance will grow in the future. These operations can then lead to increased dividends in the future.

Accelerated dividends can send a positive signal. However, they may also give an adverse view of the underlying company. Some investors may see these dividends as a significant performance boost. However, others may perceive it as a lack of investment options for the company. Therefore, investors may believe the company does not have any plans or projects.

Companies can avoid any issues with accelerated dividends. These may involve using pension contributions or gift aid payments. This way, they can still make distributions without classifying them as dividends. However, this process may be subject to rules and regulations that apply to a specific jurisdiction.


Companies use dividends to distribute profits or reserves to shareholders. These dividends may get impacted adversely due to policy changes in some cases. Therefore, companies will use accelerated dividends, which involve distributing reserves before expected. Some companies may also use these dividends to send a positive signal to the market and grow their share price.