DP12305 The Long-Term Consequences of Short-Term Incentives
This paper shows that short-term stock price concerns induce CEOs to take value-reducing actions. Vesting equity, our measure of short-term concerns, is positively associated with the probability of a firm repurchasing shares, the amount of shares repurchased, and the probability of the firm announcing a merger and acquisition (M&A). When vesting equity increases, stock returns are more positive in the two quarters surrounding both repurchases and M&A, but more negative in the two years following repurchases and four years following M&A. These results are inconsistent with CEOs buying underpriced stocks or companies to maximize long-run shareholder value, but consistent with these actions being used to boost the short-term stock price and improve the conditions for equity sales. Overall, by identifying actions that carry clear value implications, this paper documents the long-term negative consequences of short-term incentives.