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Does Diversification Destroy Value? Evidence From Industry Shocks


  • Owen Lamont
  • Christopher Polk


Does corporate diversification reduce shareholder value? Since firms endogenously choose to diversify, exogenous variation in diversification is necessary in order to draw inferences about the causal effect. We examine changes in the within-firm dispersion of industry investment, or diversity.' We find that exogenous changes in diversity, due to changes in industry investment, are negatively related to firm value. Thus diversification destroys value, consistent with the inefficient internal capital markets hypothesis. This finding is not caused by measurement error. We also find that exogenous changes in industry cash flow diversity are negative related to firm value.

Suggested Citation

  • Owen Lamont & Christopher Polk, 2000. "Does Diversification Destroy Value? Evidence From Industry Shocks," NBER Working Papers 7803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7803
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stein, Jeremy C, 1997. " Internal Capital Markets and the Competition for Corporate Resources," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 111-133, March.
    2. Morck, Randall & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1990. " Do Managerial Objectives Drive Bad Acquisitions?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(1), pages 31-48, March.
    3. Lewellen, Wilbur G, 1971. "A Pure Financial Rationale for the Conglomerate Merger," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 26(2), pages 521-537, May.
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    6. Raghuram Rajan & Henri Servaes & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(1), pages 35-80, February.
    7. Owen Lamont & Christopher Polk, "undated". "The Diversification Discount: Cash Flows vs. Returns."," CRSP working papers 504, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
    8. Hyun-Han Shin & René M. Stulz, 1998. "Are Internal capital Markets Efficient?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 531-552.
    9. Jose Manuel Campa & Simi Kedia, 2002. "Explaining the Diversification Discount," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1731-1762, August.
    10. Fluck, Zsuzsanna & Lynch, Anthony W, 1999. "Why Do Firms Merge and Then Divest? A Theory of Financial Synergy," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(3), pages 319-346, July.
    11. Lang, Larry H P & Stulz, Rene M, 1994. "Tobin's q, Corporate Diversification, and Firm Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1248-1280, December.
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    13. Denis, David J & Denis, Diane K & Sarin, Atulya, 1997. " Agency Problems, Equity Ownership, and Corporate Diversification," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 135-160, March.
    14. Berger, Philip G. & Ofek, Eli, 1995. "Diversification's effect on firm value," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 39-65, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frédéric Perdreau, 2002. "Searching for managerial opportunism faint traces in French diversifying acquisitions," Post-Print halshs-00010010, HAL.
    2. Laeven, Luc, 2001. "International evidence on the value of product and geographic diversity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2729, The World Bank.
    3. Martin, John D. & Sayrak, Akin, 2003. "Corporate diversification and shareholder value: a survey of recent literature," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 37-57, January.
    4. Stein, Jeremy C., 2003. "Agency, information and corporate investment," 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 2, pages 111-165 Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance

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