Infoscience

Thesis

Essays in Financial Economics

In the first chapter of this thesis, I empirically show that the time delay firms face in raising outside capital affects cash holdings. I exploit the 2005 US Securities Offering Reform (the Reform) as a quasi-natural experiment. For a subset of large public US firms, the Reform relaxed the requirement to undergo the standard review process with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before raising new public capital, leading to a reduction in regulatory delay of approximately 1-1.5 months on average and exceeding half a year in extreme cases. Difference-in-differences estimates based on the event suggest a causal channel from time delay to cash holdings. Over the course of the year following the Reform, affected firms reduced their cash holdings by approximately 2-3% as a fraction of book assets relative to unaffected control-group firms. As predicted by theory, the effect is strongest among firms in cash flow volatile industries. The second chapter investigates whether seasoned equity offerings (SEOs) are accompanied by price pressure effects that models of investor inattention and slow-moving capital predict. In line with theoretical predictions, I find that the share prices of issuing firms exhibit a drop in the pre-offer week, and a positive trend in the first four to eight weeks thereafter. The pattern is systematically related to the size of an offering and to measures of the amount of attention the issuing firm receives by market participants. The resulting costs to the issuing firm are on the order of 2% as a fraction of offer proceeds for the average firm, and nearly twice as large for the tercile of firms issuing the largest quantities of illiquid stock. The price impact is so sizable and long-lasting that simple monthly trading strategies that purchase SEO stocks in the first calendar month after an offering yield monthly five-factor alphas exceeding 1.5 percentage points. The abnormal returns are most pronounced in periods of low aggregate stock market liquidity, as measured by the Pástor and Stambaugh (2003) liquidity index. The results are consistent with the interpretation that the return pattern represents a compensation to temporary liquidity providers, who require the largest compensation during periods in which funding liquidity is scarce. The third chapter is joint work with Cornelius Schmidt from the University of Lausanne. We propose a novel setting to test how the presence of attention constraints affects stock prices. Our setting exploits the particular industry exposure of vertically integrated firms. Because of inter-segment sales of goods, the relative size of individual segments within such firms, in an accounting sense, is a misleading indicator for the firm's overall exposure to industry shocks. We hypothesize that attention constrained investors will tend to neglect this detail, leading to systematic pricing mistakes after confounding, industry-specific news shocks. In line with this hypothesis, we find evidence of predictable price corrections in post-news periods – in particular in the time around firms' earnings announcements. A fully implementable long-short equity strategy based on the phenomenon leads to significant risk-adjusted excess returns. Security analysts' earnings forecasts exhibit a predictable error in the same direction as stock prices.

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