Carlson, Fisher, and Giammarino (CFG) use real option analysis (real options are essentially the application of option theory to “real” assets) to investigate the stock behavior around seasoned equity offers (SEO). Many researchers (probably most notably Ritter 2003) have shown that prior to a SEO stock prices rise, then fall on the announcement, and then underperform over the following period.
Potential explanations to this include market timing and inefficiency stories that have managers selling overpriced shares to investors who willingly buy the shares but at only a partial discount. The real option view allows us to add a more rational explanation to these behavioral models.
The very quick explanation is that firms have options on growth (i.e growth options). These options are more volatile than both the firms’ assets as well as the assets that make up the growth opportunities. So, when the firm uses the proceeds of the SEO to expand (which is to say to convert growth options into assets in place), the value of the firms’s equity drops.
In the authors’ words:
“Equity issues are associated with firm expansions. When firms invest, they convert growth options to assets in place. Even when the new assets are risky, they will be less risky than the options they replace. Although both size and book-to-market effects are present in our model, standard matching procedures fail to capture the dynamics of risk and expected return.”
How cool is that?!
Carlson, Murray D., Fisher, Adlai J. and Giammarino, Ron, "Corporate Investment and Asset Price Dynamics: Implications for SEO Event Studies and Long-Run Performance" (
FTR I stumbled upon this paper while researching Real options for my advanced corporate finance class. I feel bad I had missed it for so long. And yes I will have to be redoing my notes for the umpteenth time. :)