Should Preferred Stock be Classified as a Liability? Evidence from Implied Cost of Common Equity Capital
45 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2007
Date Written: September 12, 2007
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) are currently working together towards a comprehensive standard of accounting for financial instruments with characteristics of equity, liability, or both. An important facet of this project is to determine the appropriate liability vs. equity classification of preferred stock. In its preliminary views, the FASB has selected an ownership approach. Recent Board deliberations resulted in a majority vote (with two dissenting board members) for classifying even perpetual preferred stock as a liability under the ownership approach. We contribute to this important question by examining how the equity market, on average, incorporates different forms of preferred stock (and the components of their other liability obligations) into the cost of common equity capital (COCEC). Using a change model for a large sample of firms over the period 1980-2005, we find that COCEC increases with firms' preferred stock holdings. This finding holds whether the increase in preferred stock relates to shares that are redeemable, non-redeemable, or convertible. Our results suggest that a strict liability view of preferred stock is a viable classification scheme.
Keywords: cost of common equity capital
JEL Classification: M41, M44, G12, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation