Does Equity-based Compensation Cause Firms to Manage Earnings Per Share?

68 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2017 Last revised: 27 Feb 2020

See all articles by Xing Gao

Xing Gao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Mathias Kronlund

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: February 25, 2020

Abstract

Equity-based compensation causes increases in firms' share count and dilutes Earnings Per Share (EPS), which provides firms with an incentive to raise EPS using either share buybacks or earnings management. We employ a regression discontinuity framework to provide evidence of a causal link between equity-based pay and EPS management. Our tests compare firms experiencing dilution from ``just-in-the-money'' option exercises with firms whose options end up narrowly out-of-the-money. We find that firms engage in real- and accruals-based earnings management, but not buybacks, to boost EPS around these plausibly exogenous dilutive events. These effects are stronger when executives' bonuses depend directly on EPS.

Keywords: executive compensation, earnings per share, equity incentives, option exercises, regression discontinuity, dilution, earnings management, share repurchases

JEL Classification: G30, G35, J33, M43

Suggested Citation

Gao, Xing and Kronlund, Mathias, Does Equity-based Compensation Cause Firms to Manage Earnings Per Share? (February 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3073822 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3073822

Xing Gao

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Mathias Kronlund (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
184
Abstract Views
1,430
rank
177,962
PlumX Metrics