cumulative

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Cumulative

A preferred stock where the publicly-traded company must pay all dividends. If a company misses a dividend payment for any reason, it still owes it to cumulative preferred stockholders. That is, all dividends that were "skipped" must be paid to cumulative preferred stockholders before any dividends are paid to common stock holders. This contrasts with non-cumulative preferred stock, where stockholders must forgo dividend payments that are missed. Most preferred stock is cumulative.
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cumulative

Of or relating to preferred stock and income bonds on which dividends must be paid in full before any payment of dividends is made to common stockholders. Thus, any dividends that are passed eventually must be brought up to date before common stockholders may receive payments. Nearly all issues of preferred stock are cumulative. Compare noncumulative. See also dividends in arrears.
Wall Street Words: An A to Z Guide to Investment Terms for Today's Investor by David L. Scott. Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. All rights reserved.