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Abstract

We provide theoretical and empirical evidence over 1871–2014 that total payouts (dividends plus buybacks) are the key drivers of long-run stock market returns. We show that total payouts per share (adjusted for the share decrease from buybacks) grew in line with economic productivity, whereas aggregate total payouts grew in line with GDP. We also show that a dividend discount model (DDM) based on current yields and historical growth rates underestimates expected returns relative to the total payout model. Finally, we demonstrate that the cyclically adjusted total yield (CATY) predicts changes in expected returns at least as well as the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE).

About the Author(s)

Philip U. Straehl

Philip U. Straehl is head of capital markets and asset allocation at Morningstar Investment Management LLC, Chicago.

Roger Ibbotson
Roger G. Ibbotson

Roger G. Ibbotson is Professor in the Practice Emeritus of Finance at Yale School of Management and chairman of Zebra Capital Management, LLC, a global equity investment and hedge fund manager. He is founder and former chairman of Ibbotson Associates. Professor Ibbotson conducts research on a broad range of financial topics, including popularity, liquidity, investment returns, mutual funds, international markets, portfolio management, and valuation. He has written numerous books and articles, including Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation (coauthored by Rex Sinquefield), which is updated annually and serves as a standard reference for information and capital market returns. Professor Ibbotson’s other books include The Equity Risk Premium, Lifetime Financial Advice, and, most recently, Popularity: A Bridge between Classical and Behavioral Finance. He is a regular contributor to and an editorial board member of both trade and academic journals. Professor Ibbotson serves on numerous boards and frequently speaks at universities, conferences, and other forums. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Purdue University, his MBA from Indiana University, and his PhD from the University of Chicago, where he also taught for more than 10 years and served as executive director of the Center for Research in Security Prices.