Optimal Exercise of Executive Stock Options and Implications for Valuation
22 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2008
Date Written: December 2005
The cost of executive stock options to shareholders has become a focus of attention in finance and accounting. The difficulty is that the value of these options depends on the exercise policies of the executives. Because these options are nontransferable, the usual theory does not apply. We analyze the optimal exercise policy for a utility-maximizing executive and indicate when the policy is characterized by a critical stock price boundary. We provide a counterexample in which the executive exercises at low and high stock prices but not in between. We show how the policy varies with risk aversion, wealth, and volatility and explore implications for option value. For example, option value can decline as volatility rises.
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