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Plowback Ratio


The Plowback Ratio, also known as the retention ratio, is a financial term that refers to the proportion of a company’s earnings that is reinvested back into the business, instead of being distributed as dividends to shareholders. It is calculated by deducting the dividend per share from the earnings per share, and then dividing the result by the earnings per share. This ratio provides an overview of a company’s profit reinvestment strategy and growth potential.


The phonetics of the keyword “Plowback Ratio” is: /ˈplouˌbæk ˈreɪʃiˌoʊ/

Key Takeaways

Main Takeaways About Plowback Ratio

  1. Definition: The Plowback Ratio, also known as the retention ratio, is a financial metric that shows how much of a firm’s earnings are reinvested back into the business, rather than being distributed as dividends to shareholders.
  2. Calculation: Plowback ratio is calculated by subtracting the dividend payout ratio from 1 or alternatively, by dividing retained earnings by net income. A higher plowback ratio can mean more growth for the company in the future.
  3. Implication: The plowback ratio is an important indication of a company’s long-term growth potential and financial stability. It shows if a company is retaining and reinvesting its earnings for growth or giving it out to shareholders as dividends. However, a company with a high plowback ratio must be able to use its retained earnings efficiently to generate satisfactory returns.


The Plowback Ratio, also known as the retention ratio, is a vital term in business/finance as it provides valuable insight into a company’s long-term growth and investment strategy. It measures the proportion of a firm’s earnings that is reinvested back into the business, instead of being distributed to shareholders as dividends. A higher plowback ratio indicates that more earnings are being used for expansion, debt reduction, or other potential growth initiatives, reflecting a company’s commitment to reinvest its earnings for sustainable business development. Therefore, it ultimately serves as an essential tool when analyzing a firm’s investment potential and stability.


The plowback ratio is an invaluable tool used in financial management and it helps businesses make critical decisions about how they handle their net earnings. Essentially, it guides them on whether to distribute earnings as dividends to shareholders or reinvest it back into the business to catalyze growth. In a broader context, the plowback ratio (also known as the retention ratio or the earnings retention ratio) is a measure of how much profit a company is retaining rather than dispersing as dividends. A higher ratio indicates a strategy favoring reinvestment, which could help drive future expansion, repay debt, or build a buffer against future economic downturns.Additionally, the plowback ratio enables investors to evaluate the sustainability of a company’s growth and calculate the rate at which their investment might grow. They can use this ratio to dig deeper into the company’s strategy and performance. Investors might favor a company with a high plowback ratio if they’re interested in long-term growth and believe the firm can harness retained earnings effectively. However, they may lean towards one with a lower ratio and higher dividends if they prefer immediate returns. Thus, the plowback ratio serves as a crucial touchstone in terms of both financial decision-making for businesses and the investment preferences of shareholders.


The plowback ratio, also known as the retention ratio, is a financial term that refers to the proportion of a company’s earnings that is retained and reinvested in the company, rather than being paid out as dividends to shareholders. Here are three real world examples:1. Apple Inc.: Apple Inc., despite its high profits, retains a portion of its earnings for research and development, and for potential acquisitions. In 2012, Apple started paying dividends after a long hiatus but still retained a significant portion of its earnings to maintain its innovative edge. That portion can be quantified as the plowback ratio.2. Known for its long-term growth strategy, often has a high plowback ratio as the company traditionally does not pay dividends. Instead, it reinvests its earnings back into the company for expansion, improvements, and acquisitions. The company’s consistent high growth and the expansion into new markets like groceries, entertainment, and even healthcare is a result of its high plowback ratio.3. Facebook: Another real world example is Facebook, which does not pay dividends but instead reinvests its earnings back into the business for further growth and development. This happens in forms such as infrastructure development, acquisitions (like Instagram and WhatsApp), improving artificial intelligence capabilities, and expansion into virtual reality technology.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Plowback Ratio?

The Plowback Ratio, also known as the Retention Ratio, is a financial metric that shows how much of a company’s net income is retained and reinvested back into the business, instead of being paid out to shareholders as dividends. It’s calculated by subtracting the Dividend Payout Ratio from 1.

How is the Plowback Ratio calculated?

The Plowback Ratio can be calculated using the formula: Plowback Ratio = 1 – (Dividends / Net Income). It represents the proportion of earnings that a company decides to reinvest.

Why is the Plowback Ratio important?

The Plowback Ratio is an important indicator of a company’s growth strategy. A high Plowback Ratio suggests the company is investing heavily in its future growth, whereas a low ratio may indicate that the company is primarily focussed on providing returns to shareholders.

Can one company’s Plowback Ratio be compared to another’s?

Yes, comparing Plowback Ratios can provide insights into the different strategies companies within the same industry are using. However, it’s essential to be aware of the specific contexts and broader strategies of each company.

What does a Plowback Ratio of 1 mean?

A Plowback Ratio of 1 indicates that a company is reinvesting all its net income back into the business, meaning it’s not paying out any dividends to shareholders. This could be a sign the company is investing heavily in growth or that it may not have sufficient funds to pay dividends.

What does a Plowback Ratio of 0 mean?

A Plowback Ratio of 0 means the company is distributing all its net income as dividends to its shareholders and not retaining any for reinvestment. This could be a sign of a company’s strong financial performance or a strategy to keep shareholders happy.

How does Plowback Ratio affect a company’s growth?

A high Plowback Ratio can indicate a greater potential for growth, as more earnings are being reinvested back into the company. Nonetheless, it also depends on the effectiveness of the company’s investment decisions. Reinvesting profits does not guarantee growth if those investments are not generating good returns.

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