The Trade-off Theory Revisited: On the Effect of Operating Leverage
This paper investigates the effect of operating leverage, and the subsequent abandonment option available to managers, on the relationship between corporate earnings and optimal financial leverage, thereby providing an alternative (rational) explanation for the observed negative relationship between these two quantities. Working in a dynamic capital structure setting, where corporate earnings are modelled as an exogenous stochastic process, we explicitly add fixed operating costs to the firm's value optimisation. This introduces a degree of operating leverage and a non-zero value to the implicit abandonment option of the firm’s manager. Solving for the firm's optimal timing and financing decisions we are able to derive the relationship between current corporate earnings and optimal financial leverage for a large class of earnings uncertainty assumptions. The theoretical implications are then tested empirically using a large selection of S&P 500 firms. Our analysis reveals that the manager's flexibility to abandon the project introduces nonlinearities into the valuation that are sufficient to reconcile the trade-off theory with the empirically observed negative earnings/financial leverage relationship. We further find theoretical and empirical evidence of a positive relationship between operating and financial leverage. Previous studies have used mean-reverting earnings as an explanation for the observed negative earnings/financial leverage relationship in a trade-off theory setting. We show that the relationship does not need to be process specific. Instead, it is a direct result of the financial flexibility of managers.
|Date of creation:||01 Apr 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia|
Phone: +61 2 9514 7777
Fax: +61 2 9514 7711
Web page: http://www.qfrc.uts.edu.au/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kane, Alex & Marcus, Alan J & McDonald, Robert L, 1984.
" How Big Is the Tax Advantage to Debt?,"
Journal of Finance,
American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 841-53, July.
- 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 1421-60, December.
- Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1994. "What Do We Know About Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," NBER Working Papers 4875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alex Triantis & Adam Borison, 2001. "Real Options: State Of The Practice," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 14(2), pages 8-24.
- Kristoffer Glover & Gerhard Hambusch, 2012. "Leveraged Investments and Agency Conflicts When Prices Are Mean Reverting," Research Paper Series 314, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
- Ivo Welch, 2002.
"Capital Structure and Stock Returns,"
Yale School of Management Working Papers
ysm263, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2003.
- Titman, Sheridan & Wessels, Roberto, 1988. " The Determinants of Capital Structure Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, March.
- Myers, Stewart C., 1984. "Capital structure puzzle," Working papers 1548-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
- Stewart C. Myers, 1984. "Capital Structure Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 1393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Hayne E. Leland., 1994.
"Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure,"
Research Program in Finance Working Papers
RPF-233, University of California at Berkeley.
- Leland, Hayne E, 1994. " Corporate Debt Value, Bond Covenants, and Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1213-52, September.
- Sudipto Sarkar & Fernando Zapatero, 2003. "The Trade-off Model with Mean Reverting Earnings: Theory and Empirical Tests," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 834-860, October.
- Murray Z. Frank & Vidhan K. Goyal, 2009.
"Capital Structure Decisions: Which Factors Are Reliably Important?,"
Financial Management Association International, vol. 38(1), pages 1-37, 03.
- Frank, Murray Z. & Goyal, Vidhan K., 2009. "Capital Structure Decisions: Which Factors are Reliably Important?," MPRA Paper 22525, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Myers, Stewart C, 1984. " The Capital Structure Puzzle," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 575-92, July.
- Nevins D. Baxter, 1967. "Leverage, Risk Of Ruin And The Cost Of Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 22(3), pages 395-403, 09.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uts:rpaper:329. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Duncan Ford)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.