Short Selling around Dividend Announcements and Ex-Dividend Days
34 Pages Posted: 29 May 2008 Last revised: 17 Nov 2009
Date Written: November 16, 2009
We examine short selling around dividend announcements and ex-dividend dates. Contrary to our initial expectation, we do not find abnormally low (high) short-selling activity prior to announced dividend increases (decreases), which runs counter to the argument that short sellers have the ability to acquire private information before its public dissemination. However, we find that short selling prior to unfavorable dividend announcements is less profitable than short selling during non-event times, suggesting that some dividend announcements are not informative (Gonedes, 1978, and Benartzi, Michaely, and Thaler, 1997). Around ex-dividend dates, we do find abnormal short selling, which may be explained by the return pattern around ex-dividend days documented by Lakonishok and Vermaelen (1986), who suggest that demand for a particular stock by dividend capture traders drives stock prices above their fundamental value thus providing a profitable trading opportunity for short sellers. Consistent with this conjecture, we find that short selling on and after the ex-dividend day is more profitable as the negative relation between short selling and future returns is stronger on and after the ex-dividend day than during other times.
Keywords: Dividends, Short Selling
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