Predicting future earnings growth: a test of the dividend payout ratio in the Australian market
This paper examines the use of the payout ratio as a predictor of a firm’s future earnings growth. Recent evidence rejects the hypothesis that firm which retain a large portion of their earnings have strong future earnings growth. Higher dividend payout ratios instead correspond to higher future earnings growth. Examining both listed and delisted firms on the Australian stock exchange over the period 1989 to 2008, we provide further evidence that the dividend payout ratio is positively linked to future earnings growth. The results hold over both one, three and five year periods. Furthermore, our results rejected claims that such a relationship was caused by simple mean reversion in earnings. We find no evidence to support the cash flow signaling and free cash flow hypotheses as an explanation for this relationship.