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Noncumulative is a type of preferred stock that doesn’t accumulate unpaid dividends. If a company with noncumulative preferred stock misses a dividend payment, the shareholder loses the right to claim it later. Essentially, dividends in noncumulative shares are ‘use it or lose it’ and cannot be accrued over time.


The phonetics of the keyword “Noncumulative” is: /ˌnɒnkjʊˈmjuːlətɪv/.

Key Takeaways

Three Main Takeaways About Noncumulative

  1. Noncumulative refers to the type of preference shares where the dividend, although being pre-determined, is not accumulated if it’s not paid in due time. These are called noncumulative preference shares.
  2. One of the main features of these shares is that if a company doesn’t pay the preferred dividend in any year, the business is not obligated to cover the missed dividend payment before issuing dividends to other shareholders. In other words, missed dividends do not accumulate.
  3. Lastly, noncumulative preference shares carry both advantages and disadvantages. Beneficial for the company as it does not carry any obligation to pay any missed dividends, however, high-risk for the shareholders as they may not get a regular dividend in case of insufficient profits.


The term “Noncumulative” is critical in business and finance as it refers to a type of preferred stock that does not owe its holders any missed or omitted dividends. If a company decides not to issue a dividend or skips a dividend payout for any reason, holders of noncumulative shares will neither receive the omitted dividends later nor are they accumulated to be paid out in the future. This is in stark contrast to cumulative preferred stocks, where dividend payments can accrue and be paid out at a later date. Understanding the difference between these two types of stocks is crucial for investors as it directly impacts their return on investment and their decisions related to risk management.


Noncumulative is a type of financial distribution method often associated with dividends issued by corporations and preferred stock. Its main purpose is to provide flexibility to companies regarding dividend payments. It means that if a company chooses not to pay dividends in a certain period for any reason (such as a lack of profit or need for reinvestment), shareholders will not be entitled to collect missed payments in the future. This allows companies to maintain financial stability during challenging economic times or when there are other investment opportunities that may bring higher returns.From the investor perspective, a noncumulative policy might seem less attractive as it increases their financial risk. Investors having noncumulative stocks have an increased necessity to monitor the financial health of the company and its dividend distribution practices. However, it is not all one-sided. Companies often compensate for this risk with higher dividend rates for noncumulative shares compared to cumulative ones, thereby potentially improving overall investment returns during profitable times. Despite the risks, noncumulative dividends are quite common in the business world, particularly in fields where earnings are typically stable and companies have a robust track record of dividend payments.


1. Preferred Stock Dividends: In many companies, preferred stock dividends are noncumulative, meaning if the company skips a dividend payment, the investor will not receive it later. Preferred stockholders only receive dividends during periods when the company chooses to distribute them. If there is a period of skipped dividend, these dividends do not accrue to be paid at a later date. For instance, if a company experiencing financial hardship decides to skip a dividend in a certain year, their noncumulative shareholders will not receive that missed payment in the future.2. Employee Bonuses: Some companies have noncumulative bonus programs. For instance, an employee could be eligible for a performance bonus each quarter, based on meeting certain performance metrics. But if the employee exceeds the metrics one quarter but fails to meet them the next, they don’t get to carry over their “excess” performance to the next quarter. Each bonus period is treated separately in a noncumulative manner.3. Board Member Director Fees: In some organizations, outside members of the board of directors may receive noncumulative payments for serving on the board. This means, if for any reason a board member didn’t receive their payment (maybe they missed a meeting), they don’t have the right to claim that fee in the future. Once the payment period has passed, their potential fee does not accumulate over time.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does Noncumulative mean in finance and business?

The term Noncumulative refers to a type of preferred stock where the shareholder does not have the right to receive unpaid or omitted dividends from previous periods. It is the opposite of cumulative preferred stock.

Do Noncumulative shareholders receive dividends from missed payments?

No, Noncumulative shareholders do not receive dividends from missed or unpaid periods. Once a payment period is passed, the opportunity for earning dividends for that period is lost.

What are the advantages of Noncumulative preferred stocks?

From the company’s perspective, Noncumulative preferred stocks can provide financial flexibility. It allows a company to omit dividends during periods of financial stress without accumulating dividend arrears.

How does Noncumulative differ from Cumulative preferred stocks?

The fundamental difference lies in the treatment of dividends. In Cumulative preferred stocks, unpaid dividends accumulate and the company is obliged to pay them in future. In contrast, Noncumulative preferred stocks carry no such obligation.

If a company declares bankruptcy, do Noncumulative preferred shareholders have any claim?

Yes, despite the absence of the right to omitted dividends, in the event of bankruptcy, Noncumulative preferred shareholders still have a higher claim on assets and earnings than common shareholders.

Can a company issue both Cumulative and Noncumulative preferred stocks?

Yes. A company can issue different classes of preferred stocks. Some could be Cumulative while others could be Noncumulative, depending on the company’s financial strategy.

Is it beneficial for an investor to buy Noncumulative preferred stocks?

The decision to buy Noncumulative preferred stocks depends on the investor’s financial objectives, risk tolerance, and the company’s health. They often carry a higher dividend rate due to their additional risk. However, potential investors should be aware they won’t recover missed dividends.

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