What Moves Stock Prices Around Credit Rating Changes?

Review of Accounting Studies, Forthcoming

58 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2016 Last revised: 31 Dec 2022

See all articles by Omri Even-Tov

Omri Even-Tov

Haas School of Business - UC Berkeley

N. Bugra Ozel

University of Texas at Dallas

Date Written: August 10, 2020


Using monthly and multi-day return windows, research shows that credit rating downgrades often reveal new information and lead to significant stock price reactions but that upgrades do not. Using intraday data, we revisit these findings and extend them by examining the possibility of informed trading ahead of the announcement of credit rating changes. Credit rating agencies delay public announcements of rating changes to provide issuers with time to review and respond to rating reports, which opens the door for informed trading in advance of credit rating changes. Using data on rating changes from S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch, we find a more modest price reaction to rating downgrades than documented elsewhere and show that stock prices respond to changes in long-term issuer ratings but not to changes in ratings of a single instrument or a subset of instruments. Most interestingly, we find that prices start moving before a downgrade announcement, controlling for other news and investor anticipation. These pre-announcement movements are concentrated among observations where credit analysts are motivated to disclose private information to advance their careers. The beneficiaries of these disclosures appear to be institutional investors.

Keywords: Credit ratings; intraday timing; corporate news; investor anticipation; informed trading; institutional trading

JEL Classification: D82; G12; G14; G24

Suggested Citation

Even-Tov, Omri and Ozel, N. Bugra, What Moves Stock Prices Around Credit Rating Changes? (August 10, 2020). Review of Accounting Studies, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2866039

Omri Even-Tov

Haas School of Business - UC Berkeley ( email )

Haas School of Business
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
3104302236 (Phone)

N. Bugra Ozel (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas ( email )

800 W Campbell Rd
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/bugraozel/home

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