Essays on risk, stock return volatility and R&D intensity
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Submitted by Dimos Andronoudis to the University of Exeter as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Finance, December 2015. This thesis is available for Library use on the understanding that it is copyright material and that no quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement. I certify that all material in this thesis which is not my own work has been identified and that no material has previously been submitted and approved for the award of a degree by this or any other University.
This thesis consists of three empirical essays studying the capital market implications of the accounting for R&D costs. The first empirical study (Chapter 2) re-visits the debate over the positive R&D-returns relation. The second empirical study (Chapter 3) examines the risk relevance of current R&D accounting. The third empirical study (Chapter 4) explores the joint impact of R&D intensity and competition on the relative relevance of the idiosyncratic part of earnings. Prior research argues that the positive relation between current R&D activity and future returns is evidence of mispricing, a compensation for risk inherent in R&D or a transformation of the value/growth anomaly. The first empirical study contributes to this debate by taking into account the link between R&D activity, equity duration and systematic risk. This link motivates us to employ Campbell and Vuolteenaho (2004)'s intertemporal asset pricing model (ICAPM) which accommodates stochastic discount rates and investors' intertemporal preferences. The results support a risk based explanation; R&D intensive firms are exposed to higher discount rate risk. Hedge portfolio strategies show that the mispricing explanations is not economically significant. The second empirical study contributes to prior research on the value relevance of financial reporting information on R&D, by proposing an alternative approach which relies on a return variance decomposition model. We find that R&D intensity has a significant influence on market participants' revisions of expectations regarding future discount rates (or, discount rate news) and future cash flows (or, cash flow news), thereby driving returns variance. We extend this investigation to assess the risk relevance of this information by means of its influence on the sensitivity of cash flow and discount rate news to the market news. Our findings suggest R&D intensity is associated with significant variation in the sensitivity of cash flow news to the market news which implies that financial reporting information on R&D is risk relevant. Interestingly, we do not establish a similar pattern with respect to the sensitivity of discount news to the market news which may dismiss the impact of sentiment in stock returns of R&D intensive firms. The third empirical study examines the effect of financial reporting information on R&D to the value relevance of common and idiosyncratic earnings. More specifically, we investigate the value relevance of common and idiosyncratic earnings through an extension of the Vuolteenaho (2002) model which decomposes return variance into its discount rate, idiosyncratic and common cash flow news. We demonstrate that the relative importance of idiosyncratic over common cash flow news in explaining return variance increases with firm-level R&D intensity. Extending this analysis, we find that this relation varies with the level of R&D investment concentration in the industry. Those results indicate that the market perceives that more pronounced R&D activity leads to outcomes that enable the firm to differentiate itself from its rivals. However, our results also suggest that the market perceives that this relation depends upon the underlying economics of the industry where the firm operates.
University of Exeter Business School
PhD in Finance