Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Besley, Scott

Co-Major Professor

Francis, Bill

Keywords

event study, self-selection, buy-back, payout choice, payout policy

Abstract

This research attempts to provide an explanation for the firm's choice of using either a dividend or a stock repurchase for distributing cash to its stockholders. It also provides an examination of the impact of the firm's disbursement decision on the stock market's resulting reassessment of the value of the firm. Before analyzing the disbursement decision, I examine the stock market effects of dividends and stock repurchases using an event study methodology that corrects for the possible variance change effects of cash distribution announcements. I find that the measured wealth effects are statistically significant and similar, for the most part, to that reported in earlier studies, notwithstanding increases in the variance of the abnormal returns distribution. I apply LIMDEP's full information maximum likelihood estimator (FIML) to investigate the factors influencing a firm's disbursement decision.

I use proxies to represent the major theories put forward in the literature to explain firms' rationales for making cash disbursements, namely, signaling / asymmetric information, undervaluation hypothesis, agency theory, dividend clientele, corporate control, optimal capital structure theory, managerial incentives hypothesis, financial flexibility and cash flow permanence. I find that the firm's payout choice is related to the change in annual earnings per share, the residual volatility in daily stock returns prior to the distribution, the level of undervaluation, the free cash flows of the firm, the size of the firm, the extent of available managerial stock options, the average dividend yield, the volatility of operating earnings, the average daily stock return prior to announcement, the relative proportion of permanent cash flows, and the difference in the levels of permanent cash flows pre and post announcement.

I evaluate the stock market impact of the disbursement choice by using a self-selectivity limited-dependent variables model. The findings indicate that while open market repurchasing firms make optimal disbursement choices, that is reflected in the reaction of the stock market to the disbursement announcement, firms using repurchase tender offers make disbursement decisions detrimental to the welfare of their stockholders. However, similar results were inconclusive with regard to firms choosing to utilize dividends as their cash payout mechanism.

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