Revisiting Post-Downgrade Stock Underperformance: The Impact of Credit Watch Placements on Downgraded Firms’ Long-Term Recovery
47 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2011 Last revised: 7 Aug 2015
Date Written: June 30, 2015
Prior research documents significant negative long-term stock returns following bond-rating downgrades. Some downgraded firms are placed on credit watches before downgrades, and we find that the post-downgrade stock underperformance of such firms is significantly reduced. We explore two explanations for the difference in post-downgrade stock performance that are not mutually exclusive: 1) a credit watch placement provides an early signal of the subsequent rating downgrade and gives investors more time to better understand the information content of the downgrade (the early-disclosure effect), and 2) a credit watch placement induces better recovery from credit deterioration for the downgraded firm in the long run (the recovery effect). We find that firms receiving watch-preceded downgrades show better improvements in operating profitability, financial leverage, and overall default risk, and are less likely to be further downgraded in future periods, compared with firms that are directly downgraded. Our findings suggest that the recovery effect is important in explaining downgraded firms’ performance in the long run and provide new evidence in support of the premise in the recent literature that credit watches can induce on-watch firms’ efforts to restore deteriorated credit quality.
Keywords: Credit Rating Agencies, Credit Watch, Implicit Contracting, Event Study, LT Stock Returns
JEL Classification: G14, G20, G24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation