Sustainability and relevance of dividend policies are addressed in terms of an optimal control model set forth by Feichtinger et al. (2007), by means of which two different capitalization measures,accounting for dividends and capital gains, can be given explicit representation. In the light of the theory of capital tailored by Dorfman (1969), an intertemporal economic measure of shareholder value is introduced, together with the associated shadow price. Relevant tradeoffs and scale effects are thoroughly discussed, in connection with the Modigliani-Miller irrelevance framework. The ‘lens’ property of the model is interpreted as a benchmark property of payout policies.