Lintner’s Model: Meaning, Overview, and Formula | ORBITAL AFFAIRS

Understanding Lintner’s Model for Corporate Dividend Policy


When it comes to corporate dividend policy, there are various models and theories proposed by experts in the field. One such model is Lintner’s model, proposed by John Lintner from Harvard University. This model provides valuable insights into how companies determine their dividend payout ratios and the factors that influence these decisions. In this article, we will delve deeper into Lintner’s model and explore its implications for corporate dividend policy.

1. The Basics of Lintner’s Model

Lintner’s model is based on the assumption that companies aim to maintain a stable dividend payout ratio over time. According to Lintner, companies are reluctant to make sudden changes in their dividend policies as it may send negative signals to investors. Instead, they prefer to adjust dividends gradually, reflecting changes in their earnings. This gradual adjustment is known as “smoothing.”

2. Dividend Smoothing

Dividend smoothing is a key concept in Lintner’s model. It suggests that companies prefer to smooth out fluctuations in their dividend payments by adjusting them gradually. This allows companies to avoid sudden changes in dividends, which could be perceived negatively by investors. By smoothing dividends, companies can provide a sense of stability and reliability to their shareholders.

3. Factors Influencing Dividend Decisions

According to Lintner, companies consider several factors when making dividend decisions. These factors include current and past earnings, future earnings prospects, and target payout ratios. Companies tend to base their dividend decisions on their current and past earnings, as they want to maintain a stable payout ratio. However, they also take into account future earnings prospects to ensure that they can sustain their dividend payments in the long run.

4. Target Payout Ratios

Lintner’s model suggests that companies have target payout ratios that they aim to achieve over time. These target ratios represent the proportion of earnings that companies intend to distribute as dividends. Companies adjust their dividend payments to move closer to their target payout ratios. If earnings increase, companies may increase dividends to reach their target ratios. Conversely, if earnings decline, companies may decrease dividends to maintain their target ratios.

5. Dividend Stability and Investor Confidence

One of the main reasons companies prefer dividend smoothing is to maintain stability and instill confidence in their investors. By gradually adjusting dividends, companies can avoid sudden changes that may create uncertainty among shareholders. This stability helps build trust and encourages long-term investment in the company’s stock.

6. Criticisms of Lintner’s Model

While Lintner’s model provides valuable insights into corporate dividend policy, it has faced some criticisms. Critics argue that the model assumes rational behavior on the part of companies, which may not always be the case. Additionally, the model does not account for external factors such as market conditions and regulatory changes, which can significantly impact dividend decisions.

7. Practical Implications

Lintner’s model has practical implications for both companies and investors. For companies, understanding the model can help them develop a consistent dividend policy that aligns with their long-term goals and investor expectations. It also highlights the importance of considering future earnings prospects when making dividend decisions.

For investors, Lintner’s model provides insights into how companies approach dividend payments. By understanding the factors that influence dividend decisions, investors can make more informed decisions about which stocks to invest in. They can also assess the stability and reliability of a company’s dividend payments.


Lintner’s model offers a valuable framework for understanding corporate dividend policy. By emphasizing dividend smoothing, target payout ratios, and the factors influencing dividend decisions, the model provides insights into how companies maintain stability and build investor confidence. While the model has its limitations, it remains a useful tool for both companies and investors in navigating the complex world of dividend policy.

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