Corporate Financial Policy and the Value of Cash
38 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2004
Date Written: July 23, 2004
We examine the cross-sectional variation in the marginal value of corporate cash holdings arising from differences in corporate financial policy. We begin by providing semi-quantitative predictions for the value of an extra dollar of cash depending upon whether that dollar will most likely go to i) increasing distributions to equity, ii) reducing the amount of cash that needs to be raised in the capital markets, or iii) servicing debt or other liabilities. We then relate firm financial structure characteristics to the likelihood of firms engaging in these actions, and derive a set of intuitive hypotheses to test empirically. We generate estimates of the marginal value of cash by examining the variation in excess stock returns over the fiscal year and find results that are both qualitatively and quantitatively consistent with all hypotheses tested. In particular, we find that the marginal value of cash declines with larger cash holdings, higher leverage, better access to capital markets, and as firms choose to distribute cash via dividends rather than repurchases.
Keywords: Cash holdings, financial constraints, corporate finance
JEL Classification: G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation