What Is a Dividend Payout Ratio?

The dividend payout ratio is the ratio of the total amount of dividends paid out to shareholders relative to the net income of the company. It is the percentage of earnings paid to shareholders in dividends. The amount that is not paid to shareholders is retained by the company to pay off debt or to reinvest in core operations. It is sometimes simply referred to as the ‘payout ratio.’

The dividend payout ratio provides an indication of how much money a company is returning to shareholders versus how much it is keeping on hand to reinvest in growth, pay off debt, or add to cash reserves (retained earnings).

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