Define: Earnings Retention Ratio

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Earnings Retention Ratio


Full Definition of Earnings Retention Ratio

Earnings Retention Ratio measures the percentage of earnings retained after dividends have been paid out to the shareholders. Other names for the Earnings Retention Ratio are Plowback Ratio, Retention Rate and Retention Ratio.

The philosophy behind the Earnings Retention Ratio is that the more earnings the company retains, the more capital it has available for growing the business.  There is always a conflict when it comes to the Retention Ratio as company managers would like to see a high level of earnings retention, while shareholders would think otherwise.

The formula for Retention Rate first calculates the retained earnings by subtracting dividends paid from the net income.  Then the Retention Rate is calculated by dividing the retained earnings by the net income.

Investors prefer to have a high retention ratio in a high growth business, and a low retention ratio in a slow growth (mature) business.  Company growth is not only due to the retention of earnings but also other factors. Therefore it is not sufficient to simply look at the Earnings Retention Ratio without examining the entire business.


Synonyms For Earnings Retention Ratio

Plowback Ratio, Retention Rate, Retention Ratio

Cite Term

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Modern Language Association (MLA):
Earnings Retention Ratio. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. March 29, 2020
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Earnings Retention Ratio. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: March 29, 2020).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Earnings Retention Ratio. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Earnings Retention Ratio are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 22nd March 2020.