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The roles of expected profitability, Tobin's Q and cash flow in econometric models of company investment

  • Steve Bond


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Nuffield College, Oxford)

  • Alexander Klemm

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Rain Newton-Smith

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Murtaza Syed

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Gertjan Vlieghe

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Evidence that cash flow has a significant effect on company investment spending, after controlling for Tobin's average Q, has often been interpreted as suggesting the importance of financing constraints. Recent work on measurement error in the Q model casts doubt on this interpretation. It is possible that the Q model may not be identified if there are Ѣubbles' in stock market valuations that are both persistent over time and that are correlated with fundamental values. Cash flow may then provide additional information about expected profitability that is not captured by a poorly measured Tobin's average Q variable. We explore this hypothesis empirically using UK panel data on companies for which analysts' earnings forecasts are available from the IBES database. The results point to a severe measurement error in average Q. The paper finds that, controlling for expected profitability using analysts' earnings forecasts, cash flow becomes insignificant. Both sales growth and cash-stock variables do provide additional information, which could either be capturing expectations of profitability at longer horizons, or reflect misspecification of the basic Q model. Results for subsamples do not suggest financing constraints as a likely explanation for these findings.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W04/12.

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Length: 43 pp
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/12
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  1. Steve Bond & Jason Cummins, 2001. "Noisy share prices and the Q model of investment," IFS Working Papers W01/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Stephen Bond & Julie Elston & Jacques Mairesse & Benoit Mulkay, 1997. "Financial Factors and Investment in Belgium, France, Germany and the UK:A Comparison Using Company Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 5900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. R. Glenn Hubbard, 1997. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Investment," NBER Working Papers 5996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cummins, Jason & Hassett, Kevin & Oliner, Stephen, 1997. "Investment Behavior, Observable Expectations and Internal Funds," Working Papers 97-30, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  6. Stephen BOND & Dietmar HARHOFF & John VAN REENEN, 2005. "Investment, R&D and Financial Constraints in Britain and Germany," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 79-80, pages 433-460.
  7. Campbell, J.Y. & Kyle, A.S., 1988. "Smart Money, Noise Trading And Stock Price Behavior," Papers 95, Princeton, Department of Economics - Financial Research Center.
  8. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 2000. "Exhuming Q: Market Power vs. Capital Market Imperfections," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0528, Econometric Society.
  9. Gilchrist, S. & Himmelberg, C.P., 1995. "Evidence on the Role of Cash Flow for Investment," Papers 95-29, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  10. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  11. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1994. "A Reconsideration of Investment Behavior Using Tax Reforms as Natural Experiments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 1-74.
  12. Nickell, Stephen & Nicolitsas, Daphne, 1999. "How does financial pressure affect firms?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(8), pages 1435-1456, August.
  13. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 2001. "Exhuming Q: market power capital market imperfections," Working Papers 611, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Hoshi, Takeo & Kashyap, Anil & Scharfstein, David, 1991. "Corporate Structure, Liquidity, and Investment: Evidence from Japanese Industrial Groups," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 33-60, February.
  15. Kenneth A. Froot & Maurice Obstfeld, 1989. "Intrinsic Bubbles: The Case of Stock Prices," NBER Working Papers 3091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 2000. "Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Are Useful: A Comment On Kaplan And Zingales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 695-705, May.
  17. Stephen R. Bond & Jason G. Cummins, 2000. "The Stock Market and Investment in the New Economy: Some Tangible Facts and Intangible Fictions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 61-124.
  18. Joao F. Gomes, 2001. "Financing Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1263-1285, December.
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  20. Olivier J. Blanchard & Mark W. Watson, 1982. "Bubbles, Rational Expectations and Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 0945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Kaplan, Steven N & Zingales, Luigi, 1997. "Do Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Provide Useful Measures of Financing Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 169-215, February.
  22. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "On the Sign of the Investment-Uncertainty Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 279-88, March.
  23. Simon Gilchrist & Charles Himmelberg, 1999. "Investment: Fundamentals and Finance," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 223-274 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Whited, Toni M, 1992. " Debt, Liquidity Constraints, and Corporate Investment: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1425-60, September.
  25. Michael Devereux & Fabio Schiantarelli, 1990. "Investment, Financial Factors, and Cash Flow: Evidence from U.K. Panel Data," NBER Chapters, in: Asymmetric Information, Corporate Finance, and Investment, pages 279-306 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Are Not Valid Measures Of Financing Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 707-712, May.
  27. Bond, Stephen & Van Reenen, John, 2007. "Microeconometric Models of Investment and Employment," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 65 Elsevier.
  28. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen & Devereux, Michael & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 1992. "Investment and Tobin's Q: Evidence from company panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 233-257.
  29. Timothy Erickson & Toni M. Whited, 2000. "Measurement Error and the Relationship between Investment and q," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1027-1057, October.
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