Responding to Activist Short Sellers: Allegations, Firm Responses, and Outcomes
56 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2020 Last revised: 22 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 21, 2020
This study provides descriptive evidence on how firms respond to activist short seller reports and how these responses are associated with outcomes for the targeted firms. We show that the frequency of these reports has grown substantially in recent years. While we find that firms respond only 31% of the time, this rate increases substantially when the report is accompanied by significantly negative abnormal returns and when the report contains new evidence. Not responding is associated with a less negative stock price response at report release and fewer adverse outcomes. Firms that launch internal investigations following the report release have significantly higher subsequent rates of stock exchange delisting and SEC enforcement actions, and lower rates of being acquired. Overall, our results highlight the impact of activist short sellers on target firms and that firm responses are associated with material outcomes.
Keywords: activist short sellers; internal investigations; fraud; voluntary disclosure; delisting; restatements
JEL Classification: D82; G14; G34; M41; M42; M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation