Definition: Noncumulative preferred stock is preferred stock that loses the rights to any dividends if the dividends are not declared in the current period. In other words, if dividends are not declared in the current year, noncumulative preferred shareholders do not receive a dividend for that year and can’t try to collect that dividend in future years. These shares are noncumulative, so they do not accumulate unpaid dividends.
What Does Noncumulative Preferred Stock Mean?
Unlike cumulative preferred stock, noncumulative preferred stock does not utilize the dividend in arrears account for unpaid dividends. Noncumulative preferred stockholders have priority over common shareholders when it comes to dividends that are declared in the current year. All preferred dividends must be paid first, but if no dividends are declared, the noncumulative preferred shareholders don’t get a dividend that year.
It might be easiest to look at an example. Assume a company with 100, 10%, $10 par value noncumulative preferred stocks outstanding issued a dividend for a $50 dividend. Since the preferred shareholders have the first right to dividends, they would take the entire dividend up to their limit (10% of Par) and the common stockholders wouldn’t receive a dividend that year. If the company declares any more dividends this year, the preferred shareholders would also get first right to the dividends since the preferred dividend limit wasn’t reached.
If the company does not issue any more dividends, the preferred shareholders would only get their $50 dividend. No dividends would go in the dividend in arrears account for future years and the noncumulative preferred shareholders wouldn’t have any claim or right to additional dividends this year.