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Whilst I had previously thought that these types of redirects were not as effective as 301 redirects for informing search engines that a page has moved, it turns out that as long as the delay time is low (0 or a few seconds), then the redirect code is considered the same as a server side 301 redirect code (i.e. the link juice will be passed to the new URL). Longer delays may not be considered the same.
According to my data and the word from several Googlers as well, in some situations Google will support meta refresh as if it were a 301 redirect. But you'll never know if your situation is one of the supported ones or not.
This meta tag sends the user to a new URL after a certain amount of time, and is sometimes used as a simple form of redirection. However, it is not supported by all browsers and can be confusing to the user. The W3C recommends that this tag not be used. We recommend using a server-side 301 redirect instead.
The following are deprecated HTML examples. The first changes the user's page at page at regular intervals. Content developers should not use this technique to simulate "push" technology. Developers cannot predict how much time a user will require to read a page; premature refresh can disorient users. Content developers should avoid periodic refresh and allow users to choose when they want the latest information.