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The Variability of IPO Initial Returns

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  • Michelle Lowry
  • Micah S. Officer
  • G. William Schwert

Abstract

The monthly volatility of IPO initial returns is substantial, fluctuates dramatically over time, and is considerably larger during "hot" IPO markets. Consistent with IPO theory, the volatility of initial returns is higher among firms whose value is more difficult to estimate, i.e., among firms with higher information asymmetry. Our findings highlight underwriters' difficulty in valuing companies characterized by high uncertainty, and, as a result, raise serious questions about the efficacy of the traditional firm commitment underwritten IPO process. One implication of our results is that alternate mechanisms, such as auctions, may be beneficial, particularly for firms that value price discovery over the auxiliary services provided by underwriters.

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle Lowry & Micah S. Officer & G. William Schwert, 2006. "The Variability of IPO Initial Returns," NBER Working Papers 12295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12295 Note: AP
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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