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Leverage, Investment, and Firm Growth

  • Larry Lang
  • Eli Ofek
  • Rene M. Stulz

We show that there is a negative relation between leverage and future growth at the firm level and, for diversified firms, at the segment level. Further, this negative relation between leverage and growth holds for firms with low Tobin's q, but not for high-q firms or firms in high-q industries. Therefore, leverage does not reduce growth for firms known to have good investment opportunities, but is negatively related to growth for firms whose growth opportunities are either not recognized by the capital markets or are not sufficiently valuable to overcome the effects of their debt overhang.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5165.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5165.

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Date of creation: Jul 1995
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 40, 1996, p. 3-30.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5165
Note: AP CF
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Merton H. Miller, 2005. "Leverage," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 17(1), pages 106-111.
  2. Bradley, Michael & Jarrell, Gregg A & Kim, E Han, 1984. " On the Existence of an Optimal Capital Structure: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 857-78, July.
  3. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1991. " The Theory of Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(1), pages 297-355, March.
  4. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark & Gilchrist, Simon, 1994. "The Financial Accelerator and the Flight to Quality," Working Papers 94-24, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Sharpe, Steven A, 1994. "Financial Market Imperfections, Firm Leverage, and the Cyclicality of Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 1060-74, September.
  6. Richard W. Kopcke & with Mark M. Howrey, 1994. "A panel study of investment: sales, cash flow, the cost of capital, and leverage," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 9-30.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Lindenberg, Eric B & Ross, Stephen A, 1981. "Tobin's q Ratio and Industrial Organization," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(1), pages 1-32, January.
  10. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lang, Larry H. P. & Stulz, ReneM. & Walkling, Ralph A., 1989. "Managerial performance, Tobin's Q, and the gains from successful tender offers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 137-154, September.
  12. Smith, Clifford Jr. & Watts, Ross L., 1992. "The investment opportunity set and corporate financing, dividend, and compensation policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 263-292, December.
  13. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  14. Opler, Tim C & Titman, Sheridan, 1994. " Financial Distress and Corporate Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1015-40, July.
  15. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
  16. Stulz, ReneM., 1990. "Managerial discretion and optimal financing policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 3-27, July.
  17. Richard Cantor, 1990. "Effects of leverage on corporate investment and hiring decisions," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sum, pages 31-41.
  18. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 1995. "Do Financing Constraints Explain Why Investment is Correlated with Cash Flow?," NBER Working Papers 5267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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