Default Risk, Shareholder Advantage, and Stock Returns
Posted: 15 Dec 2008
Date Written: November 2008
This paper examines the relationship between default probability and stock returns. Using the Expected Default Frequency (EDF) of Moody's KMV, we document that higher default probabilities are not associated with higher expected stock returns. Within a model of bargaining between equity holders and debt holders in default, we show that the relationship between default probability and equity return is (i) upward sloping for firms where shareholders can extract little benefit from renegotiation (low “shareholder advantage”) and (ii) humped and downward sloping for firms with high shareholder advantage. This dichotomy implies that distressed firms with stronger shareholder advantage should exhibit lower expected returns in the cross section. Our empirical evidence, based on several proxies for shareholder advantage, is consistent with the model's predictions.
Keywords: G12, G14, G33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation