CEO Stock Option Awards and the Timing of Corporate Voluntary Disclosures
Posted: 26 Nov 2000
We investigate whether CEOs manage the timing of their voluntary disclosures around scheduled stock option awards. Because stock options generally are awarded with a fixed exercise price equal to the stock price on the award date, we conjecture that CEOs manage investors' expectations around award dates by delaying good news and rushing forward bad news. For a sample of 2,039 CEO option awards by 572 firms with fixed award schedules, we document changes in share prices and analyst earnings forecasts around award dates that are consistent with our conjecture. We also provide more direct evidence based on management earnings forecasts issued prior to award dates. Because our sample comprises scheduled awards, our findings cannot be attributed to opportunistic timing of the award. Overall, our findings provide evidence that CEOs of firms with scheduled awards make opportunistic voluntary disclosures that maximize their stock option compensation. Our study contributes to the literature on executive compensation by providing evidence consistent with CEOs managing investors' expectations around option award dates. Our study also is relevant to the literature on corporate voluntary disclosure, in that we find that top executives have compensation-related incentives to delay good news and rush forward bad news.
Keywords: CEO stock option awards; Voluntary disclosure
JEL Classification: M41, M45, G29, G12, J33, D82
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