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Through the Eyes of the Founder: CEO Characteristics and Firms' Regulatory Filings

61 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017  

Bradley E. Hendricks

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School

Mark H. Lang

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Kenneth J. Merkley

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Date Written: May 1, 2017

Abstract

Linguistic features of a firm’s regulatory filings, taken at face value, convey valuable information about the firm. In this paper, we examine whether a manager-specific, non-economic component also exists within these filings and whether investors consider this component when assessing firm value. To do so, we build on prior research that shows founders have unique personality attributes, including excessive optimism. Consistent with a manager-specific component, our results indicate that 10-K text for founder-led firms is characterized by “excess” optimism relative to current and future realized earnings and relative to non-founder-led firms. The effect is reduced for firms with large auditors, greater ex ante litigation risk and those with high analyst coverage, suggesting that more intense oversight mitigates the effect of founder optimism. Based on stock price at the 10-K release, it does not appear that investors appropriately discount the tone disclosed by founder-led firms. Consistent with investor mispricing, we then show that tone for founder-led firms is associated with negative returns during the year subsequent to the 10-K release and is not predictive of future valuation. Finally, to bolster the conclusion that CEOs do, in fact, influence text, we provide broad sample evidence that CEO fixed effects are significantly related to several textual attributes, including disclosure tone.

Keywords: Disclosure Tone, Founder, Managerial Style, CEO, Regulatory Filings

JEL Classification: G14, G18, L26, M41

Suggested Citation

Hendricks, Bradley E. and Lang, Mark H. and Merkley, Kenneth J., Through the Eyes of the Founder: CEO Characteristics and Firms' Regulatory Filings (May 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2962806

Bradley E. Hendricks (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States
(919) 962-3619 (Phone)

Mark H. Lang

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( email )

Kenan-Flagler Business School
McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States
919-962-1644 (Phone)
919-962-4727 (Fax)

Kenneth J. Merkley

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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