Net leverage, risk, and credit spreads
This paper proposes a risk-based explanation of the negative relation between credit spreads and expected equity returns found in the data. In a model where issuing equity is costly and debt has a tax advantage, firms optimally choose a lower net leverage if their cash flows are more correlated to a source of aggregate fluctuations (i.e. if the firm is riskier), all else being equal. The model predicts that riskier firms have a lower net leverage and a lower credit spreads. I test these two predictions using data on U.S. public companies and I find that: (i) low net leverage firms earn a higher risk-adjusted return than high net leverage ones; (ii) risk-adjusted returns on net leverage sorted portfolios are negatively correlated to credit ratings (a proxy for credit spreads); and (iii) a net leverage-based factor has the potential to explain the variation in equity returns across portfolios sorted according to credit ratings.
|Date of creation:||2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA|
Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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