Earnings Restatements, Changes in CEO Compensation, and Firm Performance
Posted: 10 Apr 2008 Last revised: 5 Mar 2014
Prior research finds that earnings restatements are linked to CEOs' excessive option-based compensation and equity holdings. In this paper, we investigate whether firms that experience earnings restatements recontract with their CEOs to reduce their option-based compensation and if so, whether this leads to improved firm performance. Based on 289 restatement firms over the period 1997-2001, we find that the proportion of CEOs' compensation in the form of options declines significantly in the two years following the restatement. Furthermore, we document that this reduction is accompanied by a decrease in the riskiness of investments, as reflected in lower stock return volatility and subsequent improvements in operating performance. Our results suggest that a decrease in option-based compensation reduces CEOs' incentives to take excessively risky investments, resulting in improved profitability. Overall, our findings provide insights into the design and efficacy of CEO compensation contracts.
Keywords: Earnings restatements, Stock options, CEO compensation, Operating performance
JEL Classification: G30, G32, J33, M41, M43
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