Is there any difference in value between cumulative and non-cumulative preferred stock? Why, or why not?
While the difference is minimal in financially healthy companies, there is a significant difference in companies in financial distress. A company with outstanding cumulative preferred stock cannot pay dividends on its common stock unless all past dividends on the preferred issue have been fully paid. Financially healthy companies routinely pay all preferred dividends; to the preferred shareholders of these firms, the cumulative feature adds little value to the issue because it is highly unlikely that it will ever be invoked. However, companies in financial distress often are cash poor and elect to suspend preferred dividends in order to conserve their cash. To the preferred shareholders of these firms, the cumulative feature is critical to maintaining any value to the preferred shares at all.