Wall St. J., Judge Threatens PG&E Dividend (Apr. 1, 2019)

A federal judge is threatening to prevent PG&E Corp. PCG 3.19% from resuming dividend payments to shareholders until it reduces its role in sparking California wildfires, an action with little precedent that could have big repercussions for other companies put on probation.

William Alsup, a U.S. district court judge in Northern California, began overseeing PG&E’s probation after the utility company was convicted of safety-related violations following a natural-gas explosion that killed eight people in 2010. …

The company, which sought chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, pushed back, responding that such an imposition could spook investors and limit its access to capital after it restructures in court. It emphasized that it has taken steps to improve its vegetation management practices in recent years and will continue to do so. …

An avid hiker whose California nature photographs hang in the federal courthouse in San Francisco, Judge Alsup has become a vocal critic of PG&E’s wildfire response.

The free dividend fallacy could be costing you

  • The free dividend fallacy could be costing you

We show that many individual investors, mutual funds and institutions trade as if dividends and capital gains are separate disconnected attributes, not fully appreciating that dividends come at the expense of price decreases. Behavioral trading patterns (e.g. the disposition eect) are driven by price changes excluding dividends. Investors treat dividends as a separate stable income stream, holding high dividend-yield stocks longer and displaying less sensitivity to their price changes. Demand for dividends is systematically higher in periods of low interest rates and poor market performance, leading to high valuations and lower future returns for dividend-paying stocks. Investors rarely reinvest dividends into the stocks from which they came, instead purchasing other stocks. This creates predictable marketwide price increases on days of large aggregate dividend payouts, concentrated in stocks not paying dividends.