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Short selling around dividend announcements and ex-dividend days

  • Blau, Benjamin M.
  • Fuller, Kathleen P.
  • Van Ness, Robert A.

We examine short selling around dividend announcements and ex-dividend dates. Contrary to our initial expectation, we do not find abnormally high short-selling activity prior to announced dividend decreases, which runs counter to the argument that short sellers have the ability to acquire private information before its public dissemination. However, we find that the common negative relation between current short selling and future daily returns prior to unfavorable dividend announcements is similar to the negative relation during non-event times, suggesting that dividend announcements do not provide unusual trading opportunities for informed traders (Gonedes, 1978, and Benartzi et al., 1997). Around ex-dividend dates, we do find abnormal short selling, which may be explained by the return pattern around ex-dividend days documented by Lakonishok and Vermaelen (1986), who suggest that demand for a particular stock by dividend capture traders drives stock prices above their fundamental value thus providing a profitable trading opportunity for short sellers. Consistent with this conjecture, we find that both the level of short selling and the return predictability of short selling is markedly higher on and after the ex-dividend day than during non-event times.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Corporate Finance.

Volume (Year): 17 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 628-639

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Handle: RePEc:eee:corfin:v:17:y:2011:i:3:p:628-639
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jcorpfin

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