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Growth versus Margins: Destabilizing Consequences of Giving the Stock Market What It Wants

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  • PHILIPPE AGHION
  • JEREMY C. STEIN

Abstract

We develop a model in which a firm can devote effort either to increasing sales growth, or to improving per-unit profit margins. If the firm's manager cares about the current stock price, she will favor the growth strategy when the market pays more attention to growth numbers. Conversely, it can be rational for the market to weight growth measures more heavily when it is known that the firm is following a growth strategy. This two-way feedback between firms' strategies and the market's pricing rule can lead to excess volatility in real variables, even absent any external shocks. Copyright (c) 2008 by The American Finance Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Aghion & Jeremy C. Stein, 2008. "Growth versus Margins: Destabilizing Consequences of Giving the Stock Market What It Wants," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(3), pages 1025-1058, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfinan:v:63:y:2008:i:3:p:1025-1058
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Malcolm Baker & Jeremy C. Stein & Jeffrey Wurgler, 2003. "When Does the Market Matter? Stock Prices and the Investment of Equity-Dependent Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 969-1005.
    2. Malcolm Baker & Jeffrey Wurgler, 2006. "Investor Sentiment and the Cross-Section of Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1645-1680, August.
    3. Harrison Hong & Jeremy C. Stein & Jialin Yu, 2007. "Simple Forecasts and Paradigm Shifts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(3), pages 1207-1242, June.
    4. Raghuram G. Rajan, 1994. "Why Bank Credit Policies Fluctuate: A Theory and Some Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 399-441.
    5. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emre Ozdenoren & Kathy Yuan, 2012. "Stock Market Tournaments," FMG Discussion Papers dp706, Financial Markets Group.
    2. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:2:p:384-394 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mary J. Benner & Ram Ranganathan, 2013. "Divergent Reactions to Convergent Strategies: Investor Beliefs and Analyst Reactions During Technological Change," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(2), pages 378-394, April.
    4. Massa, Massimo & Zhang, Lei, 2009. "Cosmetic mergers: The effect of style investing on the market for corporate control," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 400-427, September.
    5. Anjos, Fernando & Kang, Chang-Mo, 2017. "Managerial myopia, financial expertise, and executive-firm matching," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 464-479.
    6. Caglayan, Mustafa & Demir, Firat, 2014. "Firm Productivity, Exchange Rate Movements, Sources of Finance, and Export Orientation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 204-219.
    7. repec:eee:finlet:v:24:y:2018:i:c:p:90-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. David Berger, 2012. "Countercyclical Restructuring and Jobless Recoveries," 2012 Meeting Papers 1179, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Berger, Allen N. & Bouwman, Christa H.S., 2013. "How does capital affect bank performance during financial crises?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 146-176.
    10. repec:pal:gpprii:v:43:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1057_s41288-017-0070-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Masaki Mori & Joseph Ooi & Woei Wong, 2014. "Do Investor Demand and Market Timing Affect Convertible Debt Issuance Decisions by REITs?," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 49(4), pages 524-550, November.
    12. Mustafa Caglayan & Firat Demir, 2011. "Firm productivity, exchange rate movements, sources of finance and export orientationInventories and sales uncertainty," Working Papers 2011004, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2011.
    13. Aliya Bushra & Nawazish Mirza, 2015. "The Determinants of Corporate Dividend Policy in Pakistan," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 20(2), pages 77-98, July-Dec.
    14. Houdou Basse Mama, 2017. "The interaction between stock prices and corporate investment: is Europe different?," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 315-351, March.
    15. Steven Malliaris & Hongjun Yan, 2008. "Nickels versus Black Swans: Reputation, Trading Strategies and Asset Prices," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2380, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Mar 2009.
    16. Jiang, Zhan & Kim, Kenneth A. & Lie, Erik & Yang, Sean, 2013. "Share repurchases, catering, and dividend substitution," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 36-50.
    17. Chen, Shi & Lin, Ku-Jun, 2015. "Technology choice and bank performance with government capital injection under deposit insurance fund protection," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 162-174.
    18. Chaigneau, Pierre, 2018. "The optimal timing of CEO compensation," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 90-94.

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