Implied Cost of Capital in the Cross-Section of Stocks
39 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2015 Last revised: 3 May 2017
Date Written: April 30, 2017
Recent research shows that the implied cost of capital (ICC), measured from analyst forecasts and current stock prices, positively predicts returns at the aggregate level. In contrast, there is a strong negative relation between ICC and future returns in the cross-section. We hypothesize that mispricing due to optimistic analyst forecasts and earnings uncertainty renders ICC a poor proxy for expected returns, leading to the negative cross-sectional relation. Consistent with this hypothesis, we find that (1) high-ICC firms tend to have more optimistic analyst forecasts; (2) the underperformance of high-ICC firms is pronounced for firms with a high predictable analyst bias; and (3) mispricing due to earnings uncertainty further strengthens the negative relation between ICC and future returns. The findings suggest that not only bias in analyst forecasts but also mispricing may significantly affect the estimation of ICC at the firm level.
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