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Do Persistent Large Cash Reserves Hinder Performance?

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  • Mikkelson, Wayne H.
  • Partch, M. Megan

Abstract

Conservative financial policies are often criticized as serving the interests of managers rather than the interests of stockholders. We test this argument by examining the operating performance and other characteristics of firms that for a five-year period held more than one-fourth of their assets in cash and cash equivalents. Following the five-year period, operating performance of high cash firms is comparable to or greater than the performance of firms matched by size and industry or by a measure of proclivity to hold substantial cash. In addition, proxies for managerial incentive problems, such as ownership and board characteristics, are not unusual and do not explain differences in operating performance among high cash firms. We find that high cash holdings are accompanied by greater investment, particularly R&D expenditures, and by greater growth in assets. For firms that persistently hold large cash reserves, we conclude that such policies support investment without hindering corporate performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Mikkelson, Wayne H. & Partch, M. Megan, 2003. "Do Persistent Large Cash Reserves Hinder Performance?," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 275-294, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jfinqa:v:38:y:2003:i:02:p:275-294_00
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