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Irreversible Investment, Capacity Choice, and the Value of the Firm


Robert S. Pindyck


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

July 1986

NBER Working Paper No. w1980

Abstract:     
A model of capacity choice and utilization is developedconsistent with value maximization when investment is irreversibleand future demand is uncertain. Investment requires the fullvalue of a marginal unit of capacity to be at least as large asits full cost. The former includes the value of the firms optionnot to utilize the unit, and the latter includes the opportunitycost of exercising the investment option. We show that formoderate amounts of uncertainty, the firm's optimal capacity ismuch smaller than it would be if investment were reversible, and alarge fraction of the firm's value is due to the possibility offuture growth. We also characterize the behavior of capacity andcapacity utilization, and discuss implications far the measurementof marginal cost and Tobin's q.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

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Date posted: April 27, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Pindyck, Robert S., Irreversible Investment, Capacity Choice, and the Value of the Firm (July 1986). NBER Working Paper No. w1980. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=227080

Contact Information

Robert S. Pindyck (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )
50 Memorial Drive, E52-450
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6641 (Phone)
617-258-6855 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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