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Learning about CEO Ability and Stock Return Volatility

Author

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  • Pan, Yihui

    (University of UT)

  • Wang, Tracy Yue

    (University of MN, Twin Cities)

  • Weisbach, Michael S.

    (OH State University)

Abstract

When there is uncertainty about a CEO's quality, news about the firm causes rational investors to update their expectation of the firm's profitability for two reasons: Updates occur because of the direct effect of the news, and also because the news can cause an updated assessment of the CEO's quality, affecting expectations of his ability to generate future cash flows. As a CEO's quality becomes known more precisely over time, the latter effect becomes smaller, lowering the stock price reaction to news, and hence lowering the stock return volatility. Thus, in addition to uncertainty about fundamentals, uncertainty about CEO quality is also a source of stock return volatility, which decreases over a CEO's tenure as the market learns the CEO's quality more accurately. We formally model this idea, and evaluate its implications using a large sample of CEO turnovers in U.S. public firms. Our estimates indicate that there is statistically significant and economically important market learning about CEO ability, even for CEOs whose appointments appear to be unrelated to their predecessors' performance. Also consistent with the learning model is the fact that the learning curve appears to be convex in time, and learning is faster when there is higher ex ante uncertainty about the CEO's ability and more transparency about the firm's prospects. Overall, uncertainty about management quality appears to be an important source of stock return volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • Pan, Yihui & Wang, Tracy Yue & Weisbach, Michael S., 2013. "Learning about CEO Ability and Stock Return Volatility," Working Paper Series 2013-05, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2013-05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:corfin:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:425-439 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Yihui Pan & Tracy Yue Wang & Michael S. Weisbach, 2016. "CEO Investment Cycles," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(11), pages 2955-2999.
    3. Weng, Pei-Shih & Chen, Wan-Yi, 2017. "Doing good or choosing well? Corporate reputation, CEO reputation, and corporate financial performance," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 223-240.
    4. repec:eee:jaecon:v:64:y:2017:i:2:p:183-214 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dang, Tri Vi & He, Qing, 2016. "Bureaucrats as successor CEOs," BOFIT Discussion Papers 13/2016, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    6. Limbach, Peter & Schmid, Markus & Scholz, Meik, 2015. "Do CEOs Matter? Corporate Performance and the CEO Life Cycle," Working Papers on Finance 1511, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance, revised Apr 2016.
    7. Cziraki, Peter & Xu, Moqi, 2014. "CEO job security and risk-taking," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 55909, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Pinheiro, Roberto & Yung, Chris, 2015. "CEOs in family firms: Does junior know what he's doing?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 345-361.
    9. Alexander M. Chinco & Mao Ye, 2017. "Investment-Horizon Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 23650, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Duca, Eric, 2016. "Do investors learn from the past? Evidence from follow-on equity issues," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 36-52.
    11. Kelly Shue & Richard Townsend, 2017. "How do Quasi-Random Option Grants Affect CEO Risk-Taking?," NBER Working Papers 23091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Pedro Ortin Ángel & Ana Millan Tapia & Stefan Sundgren, 2016. "Are the Most Capable Auditors in the Big 4 Firms? Model," Working Papers 1601, Departament Empresa, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, revised Jan 2016.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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