The Effect of Accounting on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Stock Option Repricing
Posted: 6 Dec 1999
Date Written: January 2001
We examine stock option repricing activity that coincided with the December 4, 1998 FASB announcement regarding accounting for repriced employee stock options. The accounting treatment requires recognition of compensation expense in future periods if there is an increase in stock price after repricing. We find that repricing firms experience significant negative cumulative abnormal returns surrounding the December 4, 1998 FASB announcement date. We document a significant increase in repricing activity in the 12-day window between the announcement date and the proposed effective date, during which firms could reprice without taking a charge to earnings, and a significant decrease in repricing activity after the proposed effective date. This evidence suggests that the FASB announcement of the new accounting altered firms' economic decisions. In examining firms' decisions to reprice in the 12-day window to avoid the accounting charge, we find that positive earnings firms, growth firms, firms experiencing increasing earnings patterns, and firms with the greater potential effect on earnings are more likely than other firms to reprice in this window. In addition, we find that firms' prior repricing behavior affects their decision to reprice in this window, suggesting that there are implicit costs associated with repricing. The evidence is consistent with firms' trading off valuation implications of repricing to avoid an earnings charge against these implicit costs associated with repricing in the window.
Note: Previously titled "Does Accounting Affect Economic Behavior? Evidence from Stock Option Repricing"
JEL Classification: G32, J33, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation