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A corporation has a large balance in retained earnings. Does that mean that its dividends to stockholders will be increasing?

Not necessarily. The balance in retained earnings means that the company has been profitable over the years and its dividends to stockholders have been less than its profits. It is possible that a company with billions of dollars of retained earnings has very little cash available today.

One possible explanation for the small amount of cash in relation to the retained earnings is that the company invested in new plant assets in order to expand its operations. Rather than distributing the company's cash to its stockholders, the company used the cash to pay for the factory and equipment in order to meet demand for its new product line.

Corporations might have a stated policy on dividends. For example, a corporation might pay dividends equal to approximately 40% of its earnings. Another corporation might have a plan to increase the amount of dividends each year by more than the rate of inflation. A new corporation might pay no dividends until its ratio of debt to equity is a specified percentage.