What is the Retention Ratio?

Retention Ratio

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Retention Ratio

The retention ratio, also known as the plowback ratio or retained earnings ratio, represents the proportion of net income that a company retains within the business, rather than distributing to its shareholders in the form of dividends. It measures a company’s ability or decision to reinvest its earnings for future growth.

The retention ratio can be calculated using the following formula:

Retention Ratio = Retained Earnings / Net Income

Or alternatively:

Retention Ratio = 1 − Payout Ratio


  • Retained Earnings is the portion of net income that is not distributed as dividends.
  • Net Income is the company’s total profit for a given period.
  • Payout Ratio is the proportion of earnings paid out as dividends to shareholders.

A higher retention ratio means that the company is retaining more of its earnings to reinvest or pay off debt, while a lower ratio indicates that more of the company’s earnings are being paid out as dividends. This ratio can provide insights into a company’s growth strategy. For example, a startup or a company in expansion mode may have a high retention ratio as they reinvest most, if not all, of their profits back into the business. On the other hand, a well-established company with stable earnings might have a lower retention ratio, as they may distribute a larger portion of their profits as dividends to shareholders.

Example of the Retention Ratio

Let’s use a hypothetical company, “TechPioneer Inc.,” to illustrate the retention ratio.

TechPioneer Inc. reported the following financial data for the year:

To find out the retained earnings, we subtract the dividends from the net income:

Retained Earnings = Net Income − Dividends Paid

Retained Earnings = $1,000,000 – $300,000 = $700,000

Now, to calculate the retention ratio:

Retention Ratio = Retained Earnings / Net Income

Retention Ratio = $700,000 / $1,000,000 = 0.7

Converted to a percentage, TechPioneer Inc. has a retention ratio of 70%.


In this example, TechPioneer Inc. retains 70% of its net income within the company and distributes the remaining 30% as dividends to its shareholders. This might suggest that TechPioneer is primarily focused on reinvesting its profits for future growth and expansion. Investors may interpret this high retention ratio as a sign that the company sees valuable opportunities for reinvestment, or it might simply be the company’s policy to keep a higher percentage of its earnings. As always, it’s essential to consider other financial metrics and qualitative factors when evaluating a company’s strategy and financial health.

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