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The risk and return of venture capital

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  • Cochrane, John H.

Abstract

This paper measures the mean, standard deviation, alpha and beta of venture capital investments, using a maximum likelihood estimate that corrects for selection bias. Since firms go public when they have achieved a good return, estimates that do not correct for selection bias are optimistic. The selection bias correction neatly accounts for log returns. Without a selection bias correction, I find a mean log return of about 100% and a log CAPM intercept of about 90%. With the selection bias correction, I find a mean log return of about 7% with a -2% intercept. However, returns are very volatile, with standard deviation near 100%. Therefore, arithmetic average returns and intercepts are much higher than geometric averages. The selection bias correction attenuates but does not eliminate high arithmetic average returns. Without a selection bias correction, I find an arithmetic average return of around 700% and a CAPM alpha of nearly 500%. With the selection bias correction, I find arithmetic average returns of about 53% and CAPM alpha of about 45%. Second, third, and fourth rounds of financing are less risky. They have progressively lower volatility, and therefore lower arithmetic average returns. The betas of successive rounds also decline dramatically from near 1 for the first round to near zero for fourth rounds. The maximum likelihood estimate matches many features of the data, in particular the pattern of IPO and exit as a function of project age, and the fact that return distributions are stable across horizons.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Financial Economics.

Volume (Year): 75 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 3-52

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:75:y:2005:i:1:p:3-52

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505576

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  1. Liang Peng, 2001. "Building A Venture Capital Index," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm221, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Oct 2001.
  2. Kaplan, Steven & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets The Real World: An Empirical Analysis Of Venture Capital Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 2421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Jonathan B. Berk, 2004. "Valuation and Return Dynamics of New Ventures," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(1), pages 1-35.
  4. Admati, Anat R & Pfleiderer, Paul, 1994. " Robust Financial Contracting and the Role of Venture Capitalists," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(2), pages 371-402, June.
  5. Lerner, Joshua, 1994. "Venture capitalists and the decision to go public," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 293-316, June.
  6. Steven Kaplan & Antoinette Schoar, 2003. "Private Equity Performance: Returns, Persistence and Capital," NBER Working Papers 9807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alexander Ljungqvist & Matthew Richardson, 2003. "The cash flow, return and risk characteristics of private equity," NBER Working Papers 9454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gompers, Paul & Lerner, Josh, 2000. "Money chasing deals? The impact of fund inflows on private equity valuation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 281-325, February.
  9. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2000. "The Private Equity Premium Puzzle," CRSP working papers 524, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
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