Bird In Hand

DEFINITION of 'Bird In Hand'

A theory that postulates that investors prefer dividends from a stock to potential capital gains because of the inherent uncertainty of the latter. Based on the adage that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, the bird-in-hand theory states that investors prefer the certainty of dividend payments to the possibility of substantially higher future capital gains.

BREAKING DOWN 'Bird In Hand'

The theory was developed by Myron Gordon and John Lintner as a counterpoint to the Modigliani-Miller dividend irrelevance theory, which maintains that investors are indifferent to whether their returns from holding a stock arise from dividends or capital gains. Under the bird-in-hand theory, stocks with high dividend payouts are sought by investors and consequently command a higher market price.

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