Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Some stock repurchase plans just empty promises

09.10.2009
A new study backs longtime speculation on Wall Street that companies sometimes ballyhoo stock repurchase programs they never plan to pursue, hoping to stir a buzz that will mislead investors and pump up sagging share prices.

But phantom repurchase programs are rare, and most are rooted in sound economic motives that generally pay off for both companies and investors, said David Ikenberry, a University of Illinois finance professor and researcher for the study.

“The good news is that the vast majority of repurchase programs are solid and well intentioned,” he said. “But there appear to be a handful where companies are indeed trying to mislead the market. They’re down on their luck and hoping a repurchase announcement will spark a price reaction that might not be warranted.”

Among other reasons, firms routinely launch buybacks when they perceive that shares are undervalued, said Ikenberry, whose study will appear in the Journal of Corporate Finance. Buybacks can provide a competitive return by reducing publicly held stock, boosting per-share earnings even if profits remain the same.

In those cases, announcements of repurchase plans are often greeted as a bullish signal, sparking bargain hunting by investors that drives up share prices, said Ikenberry, who has studied stock repurchase programs for 15 years.

But he says Wall Street analysts have long worried the positive market reaction could also spawn abuse, encouraging troubled firms to tout repurchase programs they have no intention of following through on.

“The concern has always been that there is no requirement that these buybacks ever be completed,” Ikenberry said. “So you have this potential for cheap talk and empty promises by firms who are down on their luck and just looking for a quick fix.”

He says those suspicions are supported by a study of more than 7,600 repurchase programs announced between 1980 and 2000, which found that firms showing signs of financial distress are less likely to follow through on buybacks.

Firms that used aggressive accounting accruals to pad earnings but still saw stock prices decline repurchased fewer shares than healthy companies, according to the study, co-written by business professors Konan Chan, of the University of Hong Kong, Immoo Lee, of the National University of Singapore, and Yanzhi Wang, of Yuan Ze University.

“This paints a picture of companies that are struggling and their stock prices are falling even though they’re doing everything they can to pump up earnings,” Ikenberry said. “Announcing a share repurchase may be just one more public relations tool in their effort to turn the tide.”

He says the study is the first empirical review of repurchase programs that have the potential to be misleading, and was sparked by long-standing concerns among analysts, scholars and observers such as Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money.”

“By definition, there can be no smoking gun with the tools we have,” Ikenberry said. “Yet we do have compelling circumstantial evidence, and find a limited number of cases where it’s plausible that some misleading behavior on the part of management did occur.”

Investors can guard against buying into phantom repurchase programs through due diligence, he said. Warning signs include strong earnings despite weak cash flow, indicating aggressive accounting practices, coupled with a long-term pattern of languishing stock value.

But Ikenberry says the study shows that deceptive repurchase programs are the exception not the rule, and cause no long-term harm to the market. While stock prices often surge with the repurchase announcement, they soon dip if earnings fail to support the increase.

He compares the market’s rise and fall to long lines that follow hype for a new restaurant. “If the food turns out to be good, business will stick and there will be lines for a long time,” Ikenberry said. “But if it’s not good food, the hype and buzz will fade and business will, too.”

Jan Dennis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>