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Bird In Hand


“Bird In Hand” is a financial term that refers to the theory suggesting investors prefer dividends from stock investment as opposed to potential capital gains. Essentially, it’s the idea that having money now (a bird in hand) is better than possibly getting more money later. This concept is based on the old saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.


The phonetic pronunciation for “Bird In Hand” would be: bɜːrd ɪn hænd

Key Takeaways

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  1. The Bird in Hand theory suggests that investors prefer dividends from stock investment to potential capital gains because of the inherent uncertainty in capital gains.
  2. The principle is based on the proverb “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush,” meaning a certain reward is better than an uncertain one.
  3. The theory found its origin from Myron Gordon and John Lintner’s work, which counters the traditional view that the value of a firm is unaffected by its dividend policy.



The business/finance term “Bird in Hand” is vital as it helps guide decision making in relation to dividend policies and investment opportunities. In essence, it represents a belief that a guaranteed, immediate reward is more valuable than a potentially greater, yet uncertain, future gain. This principle suggests that investors prefer dividends from a firm’s earnings (the bird in hand) over potential future capital gains (two in the bush) because of the inherent uncertainty and risk. This risk-averse behavior affects a company’s financial strategies, influencing how they distribute their profits and manage investments, thereby shaping the overall landscape of finance and investment sectors.


The “Bird In Hand” theory in finance, a term that comes from the saying “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush,” refers to the belief that investors prefer dividends from investing in stocks over potential capital gains in the future. The theory suggests that due to the uncertainty and risks associated with holding onto stocks with the hope of reaping the benefits at a later time, investors may favor the tangible, immediate return that dividends offer. Since dividends are guaranteed payments provided to shareholders, they are considered more certain, thus, the ‘bird in hand’. The purpose of the ‘Bird In Hand’ theory is to explain investor behavior and decision-making. For businesses, it can influence the decisions made by corporate leaders surrounding the distribution of profits (i.e., whether to reinvest them in the business or distribute them as dividends to shareholders). For investors, it can impact their investment strategies by encouraging them to favor dividend-paying stocks due to their relative safety and predictability. Additionally, the balance between dividends and capital gains is also a crucial factor in tax planning. However, it is worth noting that not all investors agree with the ‘Bird In Hand’ theory, with some favoring reinvestment strategies to achieve potentially higher capital gains in the future.


The business/finance term “Bird in Hand” is based on the proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” , indicating that it’s better to have a guaranteed advantage than the potential for a greater one. Here are three real-world examples:1. Investing in Bonds vs Stocks: Bonds are considered safer investments because they provide a fixed return (the bird in hand), while stocks have the potential for high returns but also come with more risk (the two in the bush).2. Savings Account versus Risky Investment: A person might prefer to keep their money in a savings account with a low but guaranteed interest rate (bird in hand) rather than investing in a start-up company that could potentially either take off or fail completely (two in the bush).3. Dividend Paying Stocks vs Non-Dividend Stocks: Some investors prefer stocks that pay regular dividends (the bird in hand), even if they’re relatively small, over stocks that do not pay dividends but might increase significantly in value in the future (the two in the bush).

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the term ‘Bird In Hand’ refer to in finance?

The term ‘Bird In Hand’ in finance refers to the theory that investors prefer dividends from stock investment, because they are tangible and immediate, rather than future capital gains, which are uncertain and largely unrealized.

Who first introduced the ‘Bird In Hand’ theory?

The ‘Bird In Hand’ theory was introduced by Myron Gordon and John Lintner as an answer to the Modigliani-Miller dividend irrelevance theory. They suggested that investors value a dollar of expected dividends more than a dollar of expected capital gains.

How does the ‘Bird In Hand’ theory impact investment decisions?

According to the ‘Bird In Hand’ theory, if a company consistently offers dividends to its shareholders, it attracts more investors, which can raise the share price. It suggests that a company’s shares will be more attractive and demand a premium price if dividends are consistently distributed.

How does the ‘Bird In Hand’ theory align with risk management?

The ‘Bird In Hand’ theory typically aligns with a conservative approach to investing and risk management. The investors who follow this theory tend to consider the dividend payment as a sure profit, while they might see capital gains as higher risk because they might not be realized.

Does the ‘Bird In Hand’ strategy work for all types of investors?

This theory is usually more appealing to income-focused investors who are looking for predictable returns. However, it is not as attractive to those who are interested in companies that ensure long-term growth by re-investing their earnings rather than paying them out as dividends.

Would a company using ‘Bird In Hand’ strategy always be better off?

Not necessarily. While distributing dividends might attract certain types of investors, having less retained earnings might slow down the company’s rate of growth. It’s always a balance between maintaining investor interest and ensuring sustainable growth.

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