IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Real Options, Taxes and Financial Leverage


  • Stewart C. Myers
  • James A. Read, Jr.


We show how the value of a real option depends on corporate income taxes and the option's "debt capacity," defined as the amount of debt supported or displaced by the option. The value of the underlying asset must be an adjusted present value (APV). The risk-free rate of interest must be after-tax. Debt capacity depends on the APV and target debt ratio for the underlying asset, on the option delta and on the amount of risk-free borrowing or lending that would be needed for replication. The target debt ratio for a real call option is almost always negative. Observed debt ratios for growth firms that follow the tradeoff theory of capital structure will be lower than target ratios for assets in place. Our results can rationalize some empirical financing patterns that seem inconsistent with the tradeoff theory, but rigorous tests of the theory for growth firms seem nearly impossible.

Suggested Citation

  • Stewart C. Myers & James A. Read, Jr., 2012. "Real Options, Taxes and Financial Leverage," NBER Working Papers 18148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18148
    Note: CF

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ivo Welch, 2004. "Capital Structure and Stock Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 106-131, February.
    2. Myers, Stewart C, 1974. "Interactions of Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions-Implications for Capital Budgeting," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-25, March.
    3. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474.
    4. Myers, Stewart C & Dill, David A & Bautista, Alberto J, 1976. "Valuation of Financial Lease Contracts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(3), pages 799-819, June.
    5. Richard S Ruback, 2002. "Capital Cash Flows: A Simple Approach to Valuing Risky Cash Flows," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 31(2), Summer.
    6. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1995. "What Do We Know about Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1421-1460, December.
    7. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A., 1976. "The valuation of options for alternative stochastic processes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1-2), pages 145-166.
    8. Jacquier, Eric & Titman, Sheridan & YalçIn, Atakan, 2010. "Predicting systematic risk: Implications from growth options," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 991-1005, December.
    9. Antoniou, Antonios & Guney, Yilmaz & Paudyal, Krishna, 2008. "The Determinants of Capital Structure: Capital Market-Oriented versus Bank-Oriented Institutions," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 59-92, March.
    10. Miles, James A. & Ezzell, John R., 1980. "The Weighted Average Cost of Capital, Perfect Capital Markets, and Project Life: A Clarification," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 719-730, September.
    11. Myers, Stewart C., 2003. "Financing of corporations," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, in: G.M. Constantinides & M. Harris & R. M. Stulz (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Finance, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 215-253, Elsevier.
    12. Robert L. McDonald, 2006. "The Role of Real Options in Capital Budgeting: Theory and Practice1," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 18(2), pages 28-39, March.
    13. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A. & Rubinstein, Mark, 1979. "Option pricing: A simplified approach," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 229-263, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dudley, Evan, 2012. "Capital structure and large investment projects," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 1168-1192.
    2. Guj, Pietro & Chandra, Atul, 2019. "Comparing different real option valuation approaches as applied to a copper mine," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 180-189.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ralf Diedrich & Stefan Dierkes & Hans-Christian Gröger, 2022. "A note on the cost of capital with fixed payout ratios," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 59(4), pages 1559-1575, November.
    2. Natalia Szomko, 2017. "The Importance of Estimation Method Choice for the Analysis of the Determinants of Capital Structure– An Example of Poland," World Journal of Applied Economics, WERI-World Economic Research Institute, vol. 3(1), pages 3-20, June.
    3. Mai, Nhat Chi, 2012. "Market timing, taxes and capital structure: evidence from Vietnam," OSF Preprints t3mvs, Center for Open Science.
    4. Antonczyk, Ron Christian & Salzmann, Astrid Juliane, 2014. "Overconfidence and optimism: The effect of national culture on capital structure," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 132-151.
    5. Lambrinoudakis, Costas & Skiadopoulos, George & Gkionis, Konstantinos, 2019. "Capital structure and financial flexibility: Expectations of future shocks," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 1-18.
    6. Francis, Bill B. & Hasan, Iftekhar & Kostova, Gergana L., 2016. "When do peers matter? A cross-country perspective," Bank of Finland Research Discussion Papers 8/2016, Bank of Finland.
    7. Peter Gibbard & Ibrahim Stevens, 2011. "Corporate debt and financial balance sheet adjustment: a comparison of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 95-118, February.
    8. Sohrabi, Narges & Movaghari, Hadi, 2020. "Reliable factors of Capital structure: Stability selection approach," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 296-310.
    9. Fernandez, Pablo, 2005. "Financial literature about discounted cash flow valuation," IESE Research Papers D/606, IESE Business School.
    10. Laurence Booth, 2007. "Capital Cash Flows, APV and Valuation," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 13(1), pages 29-48, January.
    11. Iván Alfaro & Nicholas Bloom & Xiaoji Lin, 2024. "The Finance Uncertainty Multiplier," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 132(2), pages 577-615.
    12. İbrahim Yarba & Z. Nuray Güner, 2020. "Leverage dynamics: Do financial development and government leverage matter? Evidence from a major developing economy," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 59(5), pages 2473-2507, November.
    13. repec:zbw:bofrdp:2016_008 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Biswajit Ghose & Kailash Chandra Kabra, 2018. "Dynamic Capital Structure Adjustments and Business Group Affiliations: Indian Evidence," Business Perspectives and Research, , vol. 6(1), pages 27-41, January.
    15. Jianjun Miao, 2005. "Optimal Capital Structure and Industry Dynamics," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2621-2659, December.
    16. Saman Majd & Stewart C. Myers, 1987. "Tax Asymmetries and Corporate Tax Reform," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 343-376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Murray Z. Frank & Vidhan K. Goyal, 2009. "Capital Structure Decisions: Which Factors Are Reliably Important?," Financial Management, Financial Management Association International, vol. 38(1), pages 1-37, March.
    18. Bülent Köksal & Cüneyt Orman, 2015. "Determinants of capital structure: evidence from a major developing economy," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 255-282, February.
    19. Ralf Sabiwalsky, 2010. "Nonlinear modelling of target leverage with latent determinant variables — new evidence on the trade‐off theory," Review of Financial Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 19(4), pages 137-150, October.
    20. Cooper, Ian A. & Nyborg, Kjell G., 2006. "The value of tax shields IS equal to the present value of tax shields," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 215-225, July.
    21. Fernandez, Pablo, 2005. "The value of tax shields depends only on the net increases of debt," IESE Research Papers D/613, IESE Business School.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18148. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.