Are Share Repurchases and Dividends Substitute - Ruf.rice.edu

Are Share Repurchases and Dividends Substitute - Ruf.rice.edu

Dividends, Share Repurchases, and the Substitution Hypothesis Gustavo Grullon Rice University and Roni Michaely* Cornell University and IDC Forthcomin...

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Dividends, Share Repurchases, and the Substitution Hypothesis Gustavo Grullon Rice University and Roni Michaely* Cornell University and IDC Forthcoming, The Journal of Finance January 2002

* We would like to thank Eugene Fama, John Graham, Erik Lie, Maureen O’Hara, Oded Sarig, Robert Swieringa, participants in the 2002 AFA meetings, and seminar participants at Cornell, INSEAD, Norwegian School of Management, Rice, and USC.

Dividends, Share Repurchases, and the Substitution Hypothesis Abstract We show that repurchases have not only became an important form of payout for US corporations, but also that firms finance their share repurchases with funds that otherwise would have been used to increase dividends. We find that young firms have a higher propensity to pay cash through repurchases than they did in the past and that repurchases have become the preferred form of initiating a cash payout. Although large, established firms have generally not cut their dividends, they also show a higher propensity to payout cash through repurchases. These findings indicate that firms have gradually substituted repurchases for dividends. Our results also suggest that before 1983, regulatory constraints inhibited firms from aggressively repurchasing shares.

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1. Introduction For decades, US corporations have overwhelmingly preferred to pay out cash in the form of dividends rather than share repurchases, despite the relative tax advantage of capital gains over ordinary income. However, over the last twenty years or so share repurchase activity has experienced an extraordinary growth. According to aggregate data from Compustat, expenditures on share repurchase programs (relative to total earnings) increased from 4.8% in 1980 to 41.8% in 2000. Furthermore, while share repurchase expenditures grew at an average annual rate of 26.1% over the period 1980-2000, dividends only grew at an average annual rate of 6.8%. As a consequence of these large differences in growth rates, share repurchases as a percentage of total dividends increased from 13.1% in 1980 to 113.1% in 2000. In 1999 and 2000 industrial firms spent more money on share repurchases than on dividend payments. That is, for the first time in history, share repurchase programs have become more popular than dividends. What are the reasons for this change in corporate payout policy? Are corporations buying back shares with funds that they would otherwise have used to pay dividends? And if so, why did this process not start much earlier? The answers to these questions are important because they will enhance our understanding of corporate payout policy in the US. Furthermore, they may shed some light on the long-standing issue of why firms have historically preferred dividends over share repurchases. Our objectives in this paper are threefold. First, we analyze the recent trend in share repurchases. We show that in the last 15 years or so, the majority of firms initiate cash payouts to shareholders through repurchases rather than cash dividends. Although large, more established firms did not cut or reduce the nominal amount of dividends, the growth rate in dividend payments was (and remains) significantly lower than it used to be, and the amount that firms spend on repurchases is much larger after the mid 1980s.1 Second, we focus on the analysis of whether firms use share repurchases as a substitute for dividends. We directly investigate whether the increases in the number and dollar amount of repurchases have been used as a substitute for dividends. This is an important issue, especially in light of the recent evidence provided by Fama and French 1

The average growth rate in dividend payments declined from 15% in the 1970s to 4.6% in the 1990s.

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(2001) that the number of firms paying dividends has dramatically declined over the past 20 years. From a tax perspective, there is an obvious incentive for corporations to substitute share repurchases for dividends because capital gains are taxed at more favorable rates than ordinary income. Although the Tax Reform Act of 1986 greatly reduced the relative tax advantage of capital gains, the gap between the top marginal rate on ordinary income and the marginal rate on capital gains is still positive and significant. For example, by the end of 2001, the top marginal rate on long-term capital gains was only 20%, while the top marginal rate on ordinary income was 39.6%. Moreover, share repurchases have the advantage of allowing investors to postpone the realization of capital gains and thus the payment of taxes. Knowing whether managers substitute repurchases for dividends will help us understand whether managers take into account their shareholders’ tax status when they choose a payout method. Furthermore, understanding the motivation behind the recent surge in share repurchase activity will allow us to better understand whether corporations view dividends and repurchases as interchangeable payout methods, which would have implications for many of the payout theories. The predictions of the various payout theories are not uniform on the subject. For example, John and Williams (1985), Bernheim (1991), and Allen, Bernardo and Welch (2000) conclude that management uses dividends, as opposed to share repurchases, to signal the firm’s quality. Thus, according to these theories, dividends and repurchases are not interchangeable. On the other hand, Miller and Modigliani (1961), Bhattacharya (1979), Easterbrook (1984), Miller and Rock (1985), and Jensen (1986) imply that it is the payout (as either dividends or repurchases) that can be used to signal undervaluation or to reduce agency conflicts. Thus, substitution of repurchases for dividends would be consistent with those theories. Our research provides a number of new results on the relation between repurchase and dividend policy. We highlight several of them here. First, consistent with the substitution hypothesis, the empirical evidence in this paper suggests that the marked increase in share repurchase activity in the United States has been financed with potential increases in dividends. We find that the share repurchase activity over the last two decades has helped the average total payout ratio of firms to stay relatively constant

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despite the decline in the average dividend payout ratio.

We also find that as a

percentage of the total number of firms distributing cash to their equityholders, the number of firms that repurchase shares increased from 31% in 1972 to 80% in 2000. Moreover, since the mid 1980s many more firms have decided to initiate share repurchase programs rather than to initiate dividends. As a percentage of the total number of firms initiating a cash distribution to their shareholders, the number of firms that initiated a buyback program increased from 26.6% in 1972 to 84.2% in 2000. We also find that since the mid 1980s, corporations rely more on share repurchases than on dividends to increase their payout ratios. It appears that share repurchase programs have become the preferred method of payout for many firms. This evidence is consistent with the recent findings in Fama and French (2001) that indicate that even after controlling for firm characteristics, firms now have a lower propensity to pay dividends than they did in the past. However, contrary to their conclusion, we find evidence that firms have been substituting share repurchase for dividends. As we explain later, we believe that our results differ from those of Fama and French (2001) because they use a measure for repurchases that may underestimate share repurchase activity relative to dividends (by measuring net repurchase activity and gross dividends) and that may include both financing activities (repurchases) and investment activities (payment to labor). Second, our evidence suggests that large, established firms partially finance their repurchase programs with potential dividend increases. Using Lintner’s (1956) dividend model to generate expected future dividend payments, we find that dividend forecast errors are negatively correlated with share repurchase activity.

In other words, the

difference between actual and expected dividend payments tends to become more negative as the firm spends more money on share repurchases. This result is consistent with the predictions of the substitution hypothesis. Complementing the previous findings, we also report that the market reaction surrounding the announcement of dividend decreases is significantly less negative for repurchasing firms than for non-repurchasing firms. We find that the market reaction to dividend decreases is not significantly different from zero for repurchasing firms, and that it is significantly negative for non-repurchasing firms. These results further support

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the idea that share repurchases and dividends are close substitutes. We also find that the market reaction surrounding open market repurchase announcements was significantly more positive before the enactment of the 1986 TRA when the benefits from substituting were larger. Overall, the evidence presented in this paper indicates that corporations are substituting share repurchases for dividends. The paper’s third objective is to understand why firms did not substitute repurchases for dividends earlier. That is, if share repurchases and dividends appear to be substitute payout methods, why did corporations not repurchase more intensely before the mid 1980s when the tax benefits of capital gains were much higher? One possibility is that corporations were “simply wrong” for paying so much in dividends [Grinblatt and Titman (1998) page 529]. Another possibility is that the risk of violating the antimanipulative provisions of the Securities Exchange Act (SEA) of 1934 deterred most corporations from repurchasing shares. Indeed, after the SEC adopted Rule 10b-18 which, under certain conditions, provides a safe harbor to repurchasing corporations, repurchase activity experienced an upward structural shift.2 Just one year after the approval of Rule 10b-18, the aggregate amount of cash spent on share repurchase programs tripled. Since then, the level of share repurchase activity in the United States has been at record highs. Even after controlling for the potential effects of other factors such as taxes and market conditions, the impact of the adoption of Rule 10b-18 on share repurchase activity remains economically and statistically significant. The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 further develops the substitution hypothesis. Section 3 describes the data and Section 4 examines the recent trend in corporate payout policy in the United States. Section 5 presents a direct examination of the substitution hypothesis.

Section 6 investigates whether investors perceive that

corporations are substituting share repurchases for dividends, and discusses the impact of tax changes. Section 7 examines the effect of the adoption of Rule 10b-18 on share repurchase activity. Section 8 concludes.

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As we discuss later in the paper, there is evidence that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was concerned with firms using share repurchase programs to illegally manipulate their stock prices.

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2. Payout Policy and the Substitution Hypothesis What does corporate finance theory research say about the relation between dividends and share repurchases? At the most fundamental level, the dividend irrelevancy theory of Miller and Modigliani (1961) implies that share repurchases and dividends are perfect substitutes (given perfect and complete capital markets).

That is, given investment

policy, the residual cash can be paid to investors either through dividends or repurchases. The agency theories of Easterbrook (1984) and Jensen (1986) also imply that one can control managers’ actions by taking excess cash out of the firm. Whether the excess cash is distributed through dividends or share repurchases will not affect the final outcome. Most of the signaling models imply that dividends and repurchases are perfect substitutes. For example, in Bhattacharya (1979), the signaling cost is the transaction cost associated with raising new capital, and in Miller and Rock (1985), it is the cost of reducing investments. Neither is related to the choice of payout. An exception is the John and Williams (1985) model, in which the higher taxes on dividend are the costs of the signal. This model suggests that share repurchases and dividends are not interchangeable. Allen, Bernardo, and Welch (2000) develop a model in which share repurchases and dividends are not substitutes because the latter payout method attracts institutions. Allen et al. argue that institutional investors are more likely to discover whether a firm is overvalued or undervalued because institutions have better information gathering abilities and are also better monitors. Since institutions prefer dividends, only undervalued firms want to be monitored (or signal they are undervalued), thus, these are the firms that will pay higher dividends. This signaling equilibrium is not achieved with share repurchases. Investigating the extent of substitutability of dividends and repurchases, DeAngelo, DeAngelo, and Skinner (2000) examine the relation between the disappearance of special dividends and the appearance of repurchase programs. They do not find evidence that share repurchase programs have replaced special dividends and therefore no evidence for a substitution effect. Jagannathan, Stephens, and Weisbach (2000) find that firms that pay dividends have more stable earnings than do firms that use share repurchases. They conclude that share repurchases are used to pay out extraordinary transitory earnings and dividends are used to payout permanent earnings.

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We could argue that if we just look at the sources and uses of funds identity, share repurchases and dividends should be substitute payout methods. This argument is correct if all else is constant. However, firms can always adjust their sources of funds, and therefore it is possible that dividends and share repurchases are determined independently. For example, it is possible that dividends are determined together with investment, as Miller and Rock (1985) suggest, and that repurchases are determined independently. In summary, current theories do not provide a unique prediction on what the relation should be between dividends and share repurchases. It is clear that the question of the extent to which dividends and repurchases are substitutes is a central issue, and has important implications for many of the existing payout theories. 3. Sample Selection and Definitions Using the Industrial Compustat files (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files), we create an initial sample of all the companies that appear on the files for at least one year over the period 1972-2000. To remain in the final sample, each firm-year observation must have information available on the following variables: (1) Earnings (EARN). Defined as total earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). (2) Market value (MV). Defined as market value of common stock at the end of the year (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). (3) Dividends (DIV). Defined as total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock of the firm during the year (Compustat item #21). (4) Repurchases (REPO). Defined as total expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value, Compustat item # 56) of the net number of preferred stocks outstanding.

(This variable is not available for banks,

utilities, and insurance companies. Therefore, these types of firms are not included in our final sample.) Our measure of repurchase activity is similar to the one used by Jagannathan, Stephens and Weisbach (2000). While we measure the repurchase activity only for common stocks, their measure uses the entire repurchase activity, which also includes preferred stocks. This difference, however, does not affect the results in this paper.

We also

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compare our measure to the amount of repurchase activity reported by SDC (amount of repurchases announced). The correlation coefficient between these two measures is 0.97 and the dollar amounts are similar. For each observation in the final sample, we create the following variables using data from Compustat: MB is equal to the book value of the total assets plus the market value of equity minus the book value of equity, scaled by the book value of the total assets. CASH is the book value of cash and short–term investments (Compustat item #1) scaled by the book value of the total assets. ROA is the operating income before depreciation (Compustat item #13) scaled by the book value of the total assets. σ(ROA) is the standard deviation of ROA. NOPER is the non-operating income before depreciation (Compustat item #61) scaled by the book value of the total assets. DEBT is the book-value of total long-term debt (Compustat item #9) plus the book-value of total short-term debt (Compustat item #44) scaled by the book value of the total assets. The final sample contains 15,843 firms, and an overall total of 134,646 firm-year observations over the period 1972-2000. 4. Trends in Corporate Payout Policy To examine the recent trends in corporate payout policy, we generate aggregate data by calendar year on share repurchase expenditures, cash dividend expenditures, total earnings, and total market value of equity. We use the data described in Section 3 above. Throughout most of the twentieth century the predominant form of payout for most US corporations has been the payment of dividends rather than the repurchase of common stocks [see for example Bagwell and Shoven, 1989; and Allen and Michaely, 2002]. This pattern is confirmed in Table 1. In the 1970s and early 1980s, share repurchases were a small fraction of total earnings and total dividends. For example, between 1972 and 1983, repurchases amounted to an average of 10.9% of dividend payments. However, since the mid 1980s, share repurchase programs have become a significant payout method. On average, between 1984 and 2000, the dollar amount distributed through repurchases relative to dividends was 57.7%, and it reached a high of 113.1% in 2000. In Figure 1 we present the equally-weighted averages of payout activities throughout the sample period. We first find the payout ratio for each firm and then

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calculate the average for each year in the sample (By construction, only firm-years with positive earnings are included in this calculation.) Consistent with the results in Fama and French (2001), Figure 1 shows that the average dividend payout ratio has declined from 21.4% in 1972 to 11.4% in 2000. Figure 1 also shows that the average repurchase ratio increased from 2.8% in 1972 to 12.4% in 2000. This increase in repurchase activity helped the total payout ratio to stay relatively constant despite the decline in the average dividend payout ratio. Table 2 reports the characteristics of the firms in our sample by payout policy. We determine the payout policy of a firm by observing the cash disbursements of the firm over the following periods: 1972-1975, 1976-1979, 1980-1983, 1984-1987, 1988-1991, 1992-1995, and 1996-2000.

For example, if a firm pays dividends in 1981 and

repurchases shares in 1982, then we classify this firm as a dividend-paying and repurchasing firm (DIV>0,REPO>0) during the period 1980-1983. (We repeat all analyses when we define a sub-period as one year. The results are qualitatively the same.) Table 2 reveals several interesting facts about the relation between firm’s characteristics and payout policy. First, dividend-paying firms (DIV>0) are much larger and more profitable than firms that do not pay dividends (DIV=0). For example, the average (median) market value of firms that pay dividends and do not use repurchases is $1,076.2 million ($102.8 million), and $1,803.6 million ($144.9 million) for firms that both pay dividends and repurchase. The average (median) market value of firms that do not pay dividends and do not repurchase is $167.5 million ($16.3 million) and $359.0 million ($28.2 million) for firms that only repurchase. In addition, firms that pay dividends have a lower variability of return on assets [σ(ROA)] than firms that do not pay dividends (regardless of their repurchase policy). The mean (median) standard deviation of the return on assets is 3.6% (2.6%) for firms that only pay dividends (DIV>0,REPO=0), and 3.4% (2.5%) for firms that pay dividends and repurchase shares (DIV>0,REPO>0). Overall, it seems that the firms that pay dividends but do not repurchase shares (DIV>0,REPO=0) are similar to those that pay dividends and repurchase shares (DIV>0,REPO>0).

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Firms that repurchase shares but do not pay dividends (DIV=0,REPO>0) appear to have similar characteristics to firms that do not pay out any cash (DIV=0,REPO=0). These are small, high market-to-book firms with high earnings volatility. The average (median) standard deviation of the return on assets is 7.5% (4.9%) for repurchasing nondividend-paying firms and 9.4% (6.1%) for non-payers. There is a big difference in earnings volatility between firms that pay and do not pay dividends. The relation between earnings volatility and payout method is important given the possibility that firms with higher earnings volatility may tend to pay out more in the form of repurchases rather than dividends. A relevant comparison is the findings of Jagannathan, Stephens, and Weisbach (2000). Like them, we find that firms that only repurchase have higher earnings volatility than do firms that only pay dividends. Moreover, we find that repurchasing firms are younger than dividend-paying firms are: only 34.1% of the repurchasing firms (DIV=0,REPO>0) in our sample have been traded for more than eight years. In contrast, we find that 63.4% of the dividend paying firms (DIV>0) in our sample have been traded for more than eight years.3 Table 2 also shows that if we condition on a firm paying dividends, there is no difference between firms that do or do not repurchase shares. We do not find that firms that pay dividends and repurchase shares have more volatile earnings, on average, than firms that only pay dividends (Jagannathan, Stephens, and Weisbach (2000) find similar results in their paper.) This result is important, because firms that pay dividends and repurchase shares (earnings volatility equal to 3.4%) account for 87.9% of the total aggregate expenditures on share repurchases.

On the other hand, firms that only

repurchase shares (earnings volatility equal to 7.5%) account for only 12.1% of the repurchase activity. Thus, comparing firms that only repurchase to firms that only pay dividends may not reveal the entire picture concerning the relation between payout method and earnings volatility. It seems that young firms are those who prefer to pay in the form of repurchases, which could be a reason for the findings that repurchases are associated with higher volatility of earnings. 3

CRSP started to report data on NASDAQ stocks only in 1972. Restricting our sample to the period 19802000 we can classify firms to “young” and “old” using 8 years of trading as the cut-off.

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To control for the age differences, we investigate the dividend and repurchase policies of established firms (i.e., those firms that have been on the Compustat files over the entire period 1972-2000). Our objective is to examine whether changes in the variability of earnings can account for the increase in the propensity to repurchase. We report the results in Table 3. For each of the firms, we calculate the standard deviation of ROA, the non-operating income scaled by assets, the dividend payout ratio, and the repurchase payout ratio for three distinct sub-periods: (1) 1972-1979, (2) 1980-1991, (3) 1992-2000. Table 3 shows that although the average (median) volatility of the return on assets slightly declined from 3.35% (2.35%) in the period 1972-1979 to 3.15% (2.33%) in the period 1992-2000, the average (median) repurchase payout ratio increased from 5.98% (0%) to 22.8% (11.48%). That is, for a sample of mature, well-established firms, we do not find positive relation between share repurchase activity and earnings volatility. We also estimate a cross-sectional regression of the change in the share repurchase payout ratio from period 1972-1979 to period 1992-2000 on the change in the standard deviation of ROA over the same time period. Although not reported in a table, we find that the coefficient of the standard deviation of ROA is insignificant. Consistent with the univariate analysis, this result does not suggest that firms that experience higher earnings volatility tend to use more repurchases relative to dividends. Another dimension of the change in preference the form of payout they use to distribute cash to their shareholders can be seen in Figure 2. The figure depicts the distribution of firms by payout method over the period 1972-2000. We determine the payout policy of a firm by observing the cash disbursements of the firm over a period of a year. The most striking result from this figure is the declining trend in the proportion of firms that only pay dividends. In the 1970s and early 1980s, most firms relied almost exclusively on dividend payments to distribute cash to their equityholders. This situation changed in the mid 1980s when corporations started to rely more on share repurchase programs. As a percentage of the total number of firms distributing cash to their shareholders, the number of repurchasing firms increased from 31% in 1972 to 80% in 2000. This increase means that the number of firms only paying dividends as percentage of the total number of firms distributing cash to their shareholders declined from 69.0% in 1972 to 20% in 2000. Since the number of firms distributing cash has been almost

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constant over time, this evidence suggests that repurchases have been displacing dividends. This evidence is also consistent with the recent findings of Fama and French (2001) that the proportion of dividend-paying firms has declined over time. However, contrary to their results, we find evidence consistent with substitution. Figure 3 shows the proportion of cash distribution initiations by payout method over the period 1974-2000. We define a cash distribution initiation as the first time that a firm pays dividends and/or repurchases shares after 1972. This figure shows that the proportion of firms that initiate a cash distribution using only share repurchases increased from less than 27% in 1974 to more than 84% in 2000. This evidence indicates that share repurchases have become the preferred method of payout among firms initiating cash distributions to their equityholders. Finally, we can draw a more complete picture by examining the dynamics of firms’ payout methods during this time period. Table 4 reports the transition probabilities of changing from payout policy i at time T-1 to payout policy j at time T. As before, we determine the payout policy of a firm by observing the cash disbursements of the firm over the following time periods: 1972-1975, 1976-1979, 1980-1983, 1984-1987, 19881991, 1992-1995, and 1996-2000. The firm’s payout policy can fall into one of four categories in each period: (1) no cash distribution, (2) only dividends, (3) only repurchases, and (4) both dividends and repurchases. The transitions probabilities are equal to the number of firms changing their payout policy from i to j divided by the total number of firms with payout policy i at time T-1. Panel A of Table 4 shows the average transition probabilities over the entire period (1972-2000). Panels B, C, and D show the results for three subperiods. Several interesting results emerge from Panel A (the entire time period). Firms tend not to change their payout policies. Those that did not pay any cash out in a given four-year period (T-1) are most likely to follow the same policy in the next four-year period (64.01%). We also see that 54.88% of firms that only paid dividends will continue do so. 51.15% of firms that repurchase will follow the same policy and 68.20% of firms that use both dividends and repurchases in a given period will do the same in the following period.

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When we compare the earlier sub-sample (1972-1979, Panel B) to the more recent one (1992-2000, Panel D) we observe several significant trends: first, that a much higher proportion of firms initiate a cash payment as dividends in earlier periods (22.96% in Panel A and 2.43% in Panel D). Second, that more firms initiate their cash payment in the form of repurchases in the 1990s (29.62%) than in the 1970s (14.33%). Third, that in recent periods, more firms that have been repurchasing their shares continue to do so. In the 1972-1979 period, about 38% of the firms switched from paying both dividends and repurchasing shares to only dividends, compared with 16.38% in the later period (Panel D). Firms that have been repurchasing (but not paying dividends) continue to do so at a higher proportion in the later period (55.51% vs. 30.66%). Fourth, that during the period 1972-1979, of the firms that only repurchased in a given period, 15.1% switched to only paying dividends in the following period and 29.06% switched to using both methods of payments. Only 1.24% and 6.28%, respectively, of the firms follow this strategy in the later period. Finally, firms that use both methods of payment are less likely to switch to only dividends in the later periods. In the earlier period (Panel B), 37.52% of firms that have been using both method to distribute cash to equityholders in period t-1 switch to only dividends in period t. In the later period (Panel D) the proportion drops to 16.38%. In the 1972-1979 period, 57.52% of firms that paid in the form of dividend and repurchases continue to do so, compared with 73.74% in the 1990s. (Using a binomial test, we find that all the differences discussed above are significantly different from zero at the 1% level.) Overall, the results in Table 4 indicate that relative to the 1970s, US corporations are more likely to use share repurchase programs and less likely to use dividends. It seems that corporations have been changing their preferences on the form of payout they use to distribute cash. Using a different measure of share repurchases, a recent paper by Fama and French (2001) does not detect a strong relation between share repurchase activity and changes in dividends. The Fama and French measure may cloud the relation between dividends and repurchases, since their measure of repurchases (either the change in treasury stock or the amount repurchased minus amount issued by the firm) involves not

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only repurchase activity, but also equity issuance and payment to labor in the form of stock options. This measure may pose two problems. First, since our objective is to compare dividends to repurchases, we do not want to subtract another financing activity of the firm (equity issuance) from repurchases and not from dividends. Otherwise, we would be comparing net repurchase activity to gross dividends. Second, the exercise of stock options decreases the amount of treasury stocks, and therefore results in an underestimate of the true amount that was repurchased (see also Stephens and Weisbach, 1998). Moreover, stock options are a form of payment to labor and should be viewed as such. Thus, by calculating the net change in treasury stocks we might be measuring a net impact of financing (repurchases and equity issuance) and investment decisions (payment to labor). For example, imagine a firm that repurchases 1,000 shares, say for $10,000, and then a few months later the firm turns around and gives these shares to its CEO as part of her compensation. The firm is involved in two distinct actions. The first is a financing action (repurchase shares), and the second is an investment decision (to pay the manager). In this example the net change in treasury stock is zero. Thus, this measure of repurchase could underestimate the extent of repurchase activity since it combines payment to labor through stocks and repurchase of shares. Indeed, Stephens and Weisbach (1998) show that measuring repurchase activity through changes in treasury stocks results in estimates that are 60% lower than the measures that use the cash amount spent on repurchases (as we do) or the amount firms announce they will repurchase. 5. Share Repurchases, Dividends, and the Substitution Hypothesis To investigate on a firm level whether dividend-paying firms treat dividends and repurchases as alternative payout methods, we use Lintner’s (1956) analysis of how firms determine their dividend policy. Lintner’s observations suggest that firms’ dividend policy is a function of their targeted payout ratio and the speed of adjustment of current dividends. Using this model, we calculate the expected dividend payment for a firm based on its past dividend behavior and determine whether actual dividend payments are above or below the expected dividend payment. By doing so, we can observe whether firms are deviating from their past dividend policies. If firms are substituting repurchases

14

for dividends, then we should find a negative correlation between the dividend forecast error (actual minus expected) and share repurchase activity. In other words, finding a negative correlation between these two variables would indicate that share repurchases have been partially financed with potential dividend increases. Alternatively, finding a positive (zero) correlation between these two variables would indicate that dividends and share repurchases are complementary (independent) payout methods. We examine the effect of share repurchase activity on the dividend forecast error by using a sample of firms that have continuously paid dividends over the entire preforecast period.4 We use two pre-forecast periods to estimate the parameters of the Lintner model: 1973-1983 and 1973-1990. For each firm, we define the dividend-forecast error as: ERRORt,i = [∆DIVt,i - (β1,i + β2,i EARNt,i + β3,iDIVt-1,i )]/MVt-1,i

(1)

where ∆DIVt,i is the actual change in dividends in year t, EARNt,i is the earnings in year t, DIVt-1,i is the dividend level at year t-1, and MVt-1,i is the market value of equity in year t-1. The coefficients β2,i and β3,i are the parameters of earnings and lagged dividends, respectively, from Lintner’s (1956) model which we have estimated over a pre-forecast period. (Scaling by the market value of equity reduces the effects of heteroskedasticity and enables us to directly compare the forecast error to the repurchase and dividend yield.) On average, our estimates of the parameters of the Lintner model are consistent with the estimates reported in Fama, (1974) over the period 1946-1968.

The average

estimate for the coefficient of earnings is 0.092 when we estimate the model over the period 1973-1983. The average estimate for the coefficient of lagged dividends is –0.208 and the average adjusted R2 is 45.7%. Table 5 shows the empirical relation between the dividend forecast error (ERROR) and the share repurchase yield (RYIELD). Consistent with the substitution hypothesis, the evidence indicates that the dividend forecast error is negatively correlated

4

Using such firms results in more precise parameters for the Lintner model. We repeat the analysis by using portfolios of firms instead of individual firms. The results are qualitatively the same.

15

with the share repurchase yield.5 The forecast error becomes more negative (monotonically) as the share-repurchase yield increases.6 That is, as firms repurchase more (i.e., a higher repurchase yield) the actual dividend is lower than the expected dividend. For example, the mean (median) dividend forecast error when there is no repurchase activity (Group 1) is equal to 0.044% (0.012%) when the pre-forecast period is 1973-1983 and -0.060% (-0.001%) when the pre-forecast period is 1973-1990. This small forecast error is an indication that the model works well in the absence of repurchase activity. On the other hand, the mean (median) dividend forecast error when share repurchase is high (Group 5) is equal to -0.144% (-0.177%) when the pre-forecast period is 1973-1983 and -0.326% (-0.221%) when the pre-forecast period is 1973-1990. The differences in forecast errors between group 5 and group 1 are negative and significantly different from zero. Although not reported in the table, we also find that the difference in forecast errors between repurchasing firms and non-repurchasing firms is negative and statistically significant. To examine the economic significance of the dividend forecast error, we estimate how large the average forecast error is relative to the average dividend yield. We find that a forecasting error of –0.144% (Group 5 when the pre-forecast period is 1972-1983) implies a deviation of 5.11% from the average dividend yield. A forecasting error of 0.326% (Group 5 when the pre-forecast period is 1972-1990) implies a deviation of 14.05% from the average dividend yield. These comparisons indicate that the magnitudes of the forecast errors are not trivial. We could argue that the correlation between the dividend forecast error and share repurchase activity is driven by differences in the firm characteristics. For example, a firm might decide to repurchase shares after experiencing an increase in earnings volatility.

This situation could create a spurious correlation between the dividend

forecast error and the share repurchase yield, because the increase in earnings volatility could be causing both the decline in dividends and the increase in share repurchases. That is, it is possible that firms with high-repurchase yields have different characteristics 5

We note that the number of observations varies across groups. The reason for this is that RYIELD is not uniformly distributed. 6 We also ran a simple regression of the ERROR on RYIELD, and found that the coefficient of RYIELD is negative and significantly different from zero at the 1% level.

16

than firms with low-repurchase yields. Therefore, the apparent substitution effect could be caused only by differences in firm characteristics. Therefore, we control for several factors that might affect the decision of the method of payment. In Table 6, we report the results of cross-sectional regressions of the dividend forecast error on the repurchase yield, the logarithm of size, the return on assets, the volatility of return on assets, the non-operating income scaled by total assets, and the debt-to-total assets ratio. To reduce the effect of cross-correlated residuals, we use FamaMacbeth (1973) type regressions to estimate the coefficients and standard errors. First, we estimate year-by-year annual average coefficients. Then, we estimate time-series averages for each coefficient. We estimate the standard errors by using the HansenHodrick standard error correction method. Our results indicate that the repurchase yield has a negative effect on the dividend forecast error even after we control for firm characteristics.

The average regression

coefficient of RYIELD is equal to –0.01312 when the pre-forecast period is 1973-1983 and –0.01766 when the pre-forecast period is 1973-1990.

These coefficients are

significantly different from zero at the one percent confidence level. The evidence in this section seems to suggest that dividend-paying firms have been substituting dividends with share repurchases. 6. Does the Market Perceives Dividends and Repurchases as Substitutes? Presumably, corporations substitute share repurchases for dividends because it increases the value of the firm. Therefore, a relevant question is how investors perceive this change in corporate policy. Answering this question is important, because it will allow us to test the substitution hypothesis from a different perspective. All else constant, if investors believe that it is more likely that corporations are substituting share repurchases for dividends, then the market reaction to dividend cuts should be significantly less negative for repurchasing firms than for non-repurchasing firms. If there is no substitution between dividends and repurchases, then the market reaction to dividend cuts should be the same for all types of firms. Testing this hypothesis is not a trivial task because it is very rare for firms to simultaneously announce a share repurchase program and a dividend reduction. (One likely reason for the rareness of this event is that it makes it all too clear to the IRS that

17

the announced repurchase is a perfect substitute to a dividend distribution.) However, what we can observe is the market reaction to firms’ announcements of dividend reduction. Although it is well documented that stock prices react negatively to the announcement of dividend decreases [see Asquith and Mullins (1983), Brickley (1983) Healy and Palepu (1988), Michaely, Thaler, Womack (1995)], it is still unclear whether the market reacts differently to this news as a function of the firm’s repurchase policy. We investigate this issue in Section 6.1. If dividends and repurchases are substitutes and differential taxes play a role in this issue, then the market reaction to a share repurchase announcement should be a function of the relative taxation as well. In other words, the market reaction to these corporate events should be positively correlated with the marginal benefit of substituting share repurchases for dividends. We investigate this issue in Section 6.2. 6.1 The Effect of Share Repurchases on the Market Reaction Surrounding Dividend Decreases To assess the effect of share repurchase programs on the market reaction around the announcement of dividend decreases, we collect a sample consisting of firms that reduced their cash dividends during the period 1974-1996. Each observation in the sample satisfies the following criteria: (1) the firm’s financial data is available on CRSP and Compustat; (2) its dividend is paid quarterly; (3) the dividend is taxable; (4) the cash dividend change is greater than 10%; (5) the cash dividend is not an omission. The resulting sample contains 1,255 announcements of dividend decreases. We classify the firms in our sample of dividend decreases as repurchasing firms or non-repurchasing firms. To be classified as a repurchasing firm, a firm must have repurchased shares over the two years prior to the announcement of the dividend decrease. Table 7 presents the results of this analysis. The three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of dividend decreases is significantly less negative for non-repurchasing firms than for repurchasing firms. On average, the market reaction to dividend decreases is not significantly different from zero for non-repurchasing firms. Although the mean (median) market reaction around the announcements made by nonrepurchasing firms is -1.93% (-0.72%), the mean (median) market reaction around the announcements made by repurchasing firms is only –0.45% (0.10%). The differences 18

between the two means (1.48%) and the two medians (0.82%) are significantly different from zero at the 1% level. Table 7 also shows that the mean and median percentage changes in the cash dividend. Since the difference between these values is relatively small, we cannot attribute the difference in market reaction to differences in the magnitude of the dividend changes.7 To control for other factors that may affect the market reaction around the announcement of dividend decreases, we estimate the following cross-sectional regression using the Fama-MacBeth methodology: CARit =β0 +β1 DUMREPOit +β2 CHGDIVit+β3 SIZEit+β4 DYIELDit+β5 DROA0it+ε it, (2) where CAR is the three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of the dividend change, DUMREPO is a dummy variable that is equal to one if the firm has repurchased shares in the two years prior to the announcement of the dividend decrease, zero otherwise, CHGDIV is the percentage change in the cash dividend payment, SIZE is the logarithm of the book value of the total assets at the time of the announcement of the cash dividend decrease, DYIELD is the dividend yield at the time of the announcement of the cash dividend decrease, and DROA0 is the change in ROA from year -1 to year 0 (year of the event). Consistent with the results from the univariate analysis, Table 8 shows that non-repurchasing firms experience a less negative market reaction to dividend decreases than non-repurchasing firm.

The coefficient of DUMREPO is positive

(1.1423) and significantly different from zero at the 1% level. Overall, the evidence presented in this subsection suggests that investors perceive that corporations substitute share repurchases for dividends and therefore penalize a firm less for a reduction of dividends when they perceive that those dividends are being substituted by share repurchases. 6.2 Share Repurchases, Dividends, and Taxes If we assume that investors’ dividend tax rates are higher than their capital gains tax rates, then every dollar the firm pays its shareholders through a repurchase and not 7

Conditioning on the firm repurchasing shares in only the prior year (rather than in the two years before the announcement of dividend reduction), we find similar results.

19

through a dividend should be more valuable to investors by the differential taxes between dividends and capital gains taxes. If, on the other hand, firms are paying repurchases from retained earnings for example, and are not using repurchases as a substitute for dividends, then differential taxes should not affect investors’ reaction to repurchases. We test this prediction by examining the effect of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on the market reaction surrounding share repurchase announcements. Since the Tax Reform Act of 1986 drastically reduced the difference between dividends and capital gains, the substitution hypothesis predicts a reduction in the market reaction around share repurchase announcements after this tax reform. With this objective in mind, we form a sample of firms that announce open market share repurchase programs over the period 1980-1997. We gather data on open market share repurchase announcements from two different sources. Our main sample comes from announcements reported in the Securities Data Corporation’s U. S. Mergers and Acquisitions database over the period 1985-1997.

This database contains a

comprehensive sample of open market share repurchase announcements and covers most of the share repurchase programs announced after 1984. We supplement this sample with announcements of open market share repurchase programs reported in the Wall Street Journal Index over the period 1980-1984. The final sample satisfies the following criteria: (1) Firm’s financial data is available on CRSP and Compustat. (2) The announcement of the share repurchase program does not coincide with the announcement of a dividend change. (3) The firm discloses the number or the percentage of shares sought during the duration of the share repurchase program. If the firm only announces the number of shares sought, then we calculate the percentage of shares sought by using the number of shares outstanding at the announcement of the share repurchase program. (4) The announcement of the open market share repurchase program is not made during the last quarter of 1987.8 These selection criteria produce a sample of 3,935 open-market share repurchase announcements over the period 1980-1997. 8

Following Ikenberry, Lakonishok, and Vermaelen (1995), we exclude this period from the sample because many corporations established open market share repurchase programs during this period to stabilize their stock prices after the market crash of October 1987. Furthermore, during this period, many companies did not announce the number of shares to repurchase over the duration of the program.

20

We divide our sample of share repurchase announcements into two sub-samples, firms that announced open-market share repurchase programs prior to the approval of the tax reform, and firms that announced open market share repurchase programs after the approval of the tax reform. Consistent with the predictions of the substitution hypothesis, the results in Panel A of Table 9 indicate that the mean (median) market reaction around the announcement of share repurchase programs declined after the Tax Reform Act of 1986, from 3.49% (2.56%) to 2.42% (1.65%). The difference in the market reaction is significantly different at the 1% level. Since the average magnitude of share repurchase programs (PSOUGHT) increased slightly after the Tax Reform Act of 1986, we cannot attribute the decline in the average market reaction after the tax reform to differences in the magnitude of the programs. Since many repurchase programs that were authorized after the TRA of 1986 were announced by firms with previous announcements, we could argue that the decline in the average market reaction after 1986 is related to the fact that share repurchase programs became more predictable. To investigate this possibility, Panel B of Table 9 reports the market reaction for only first-time announcements. We define a first-time announcement as the first announcement made by a particular firm over the period 19801997. Consistent with our previous findings, the average (median) market reaction declined after the TRA of 1986, from 4.03% (3.09%) to 2.94% (1.89%). To control for other factors that might affect the market reaction around share repurchase programs, we estimate the following cross-sectional regression: CARit = β0 + β1 TAXt + β2 Log(PSOUGHTit) + β3 SIZEit + β4 DYIELDit + ε i .

(3)

where CAR is the three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of the open market share repurchase program, TAXt is the tax differential between the top marginal tax rate on ordinary income and the top marginal tax rate on capital gains, Log (PSOUGHT) is the logarithm of the amount of shares authorized for repurchase scaled by the number of shares outstanding at the time of the announcement, SIZE is the logarithm of the book value of the total assets at the time of the announcement of the repurchase

21

program, and DYIELD is the dividend yield at the time of the announcement of the repurchase program. Table 10 presents the estimated coefficients from this cross-sectional regression. It shows that the differentia tax variable is positively related to the market reaction surrounding open market share repurchase programs (and significant at the 5% level). We obtain similar result when we include only first-time announcers in the sample (last column of the Table). Not surprisingly, the regression also indicates that the market reaction is inversely related to the market value of equity (i.e., larger firms experience a small market reaction to announced repurchases); and it is positively related to the amount of the announced repurchase.9 7. The Effect of Rule 10b-18 on Share Repurchase Activity The evidence indicates that corporations substitute share repurchases for dividends. But why did it take so long? Why did corporations rely primarily on dividend payments prior to the mid-80s? This is especially puzzling given the heavier tax burden on dividends relative to capital gains.

It is possible that dividends have historically been the

predominant form of cash of distribution, because, due to the potential risk of violating the anti-manipulative provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, corporations were reluctant to repurchase shares on the open market In some countries, such as Austria, Norway and Israel, open market share repurchases are prohibited and are considered price manipulation. Although share repurchase programs have never been explicitly prohibited in the U.S., there is reason to believe that regulatory agencies have been concerned with the potential impact of these programs on stock prices. This concern is reflected in the following statement made by a Senate Committee in 1967: “Corporate repurchases of their own securities may serve a number of legitimate purposes. For example, they may result from a desire to reduce outstanding capital stock following the cash sale of operating divisions or subsidiaries, or to have shares available for options, acquisitions, employee or stock purchase plans, and the like, without increasing the total number of shares outstanding. Repurchase programs, however, may also be utilized by management to preserve or strengthen their control by counteracting tender offers or other attempted takeovers, or may be made in order to increase the 9

We also use a regression in which, for each year, the ordinary income and the capital gains income tax rates are two separate variables. We find that only the coefficient of the ordinary income tax rate is positive and significant, indicating that the source of tax savings comes from the variation in the ordinary income tax rate.

22

market price of the company’s shares. Whatever the motive behind the repurchase program, if the repurchases are substantial they will have a significant impact on the market.” (Senate Report No. 550, 90th Congress; 1967). Indeed, for decades, the SEC has occasionally charged companies with illegally manipulating their stock prices during share repurchase programs.10 Due to the unique nature of stock buybacks, the SEC has been concerned that repurchasing firms might be engaging in certain types of activities that might disrupt the natural order of financial markets. But until 1982, there were no explicit rules directly regulating share repurchase activity in the United States. This situation exposed repurchasing firms to the risk of triggering a SEC investigation and being charged with illegal market manipulation. Since the direct and indirect costs of a regulatory inquiry can be very large [see Feroz, Park, and Pastena (1991), Karpoff and Lott (1993), Nourayi (1994), and Beatty, Bunsis, and Hand (1998)], it seems that firms were indeed deterred from repurchasing shares.11 Aware of this problem, the SEC started to design guidelines for corporations on how to carry out share repurchase programs without raising suspicions of manipulative behavior. In 1967, the SEC proposed Rule 10b-10, which, if it had been approved, would have required repurchasing firms to disclose information and to comply with certain mandatory rules on the price, time, volume, and manner of share repurchases.12 In 1970, the SEC proposed Rule 13e-2, which in essence was very similar to Rule 10b-10.13 Other versions of Rule 13e-2 were proposed in 1973 and 1980.14 However, the SEC did not adopt any of these rules. As part of the deregulation wave of the early 1980s, the SEC finally approved a legislation to regulate open market share repurchases. In 1982, the SEC adopted Rule 10b-18, which provides a safe-harbor for repurchasing firms against the anti-

10

See, for example, Genesco, Inc., [1964-66 Transfer Binder] Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 77,354 (May 10, 1966); SEC vs. Georgia-Pacific Corporation, [1964-66 Transfer Binder] Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 91,680, (S.D.N.Y. 1960) (complaint); and Atlantic Research Corp., Sec. Exch. Act Release No. 4657 (December 6, 1963), [1961-64 Transfer Binder] Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 76,949. 11 Since the anti-manipulative provisions of the SEA of 1934 apply to all participants involved in an illegal manipulation scheme, this situation may have also deterred brokers and specialists from participating in share repurchase programs as well. 12 See Pub. L. No, 90-439, 82 Stat. 454 (July 29, 1968). 13 SEC Release No. 34-8930 (July 13, 1970), 35 Fed. Reg. 11410 (1970). 14 SEC Release No. 34-10539 (December 6, 1973), 38 Fed. Reg. 34341 (1973); SEC Release No. 34-17222 (October 17, 1980) 45 Fed. Reg. 70890 (1980).

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manipulative provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.15 Rule 10b-18 was adopted to establish guidelines for repurchasing shares on the open market without violating Sections 9 (a) (2) or 10 (b) of the SEA of 1934.16 In general, Rule 10b-18 requires that firms repurchasing shares on the open market should only use one broker or dealer on any single day, avoid trading on an up tick or during opening or the last halfhour before the closing of the market, and limit the daily volume of purchases to a specified amount. After the adoption of Rule 10b-18 in 1982, the chairman of the SEC at that time, John Shad, expressed that “without the change, companies are inhibited from making big open-market buys.” (The Wall Street Journal, November 10, 1982) Apparently, the adoption of this rule represented a major change in the SEC’s regulatory policy. John Evans, a SEC commissioner at that time, said ”this is much-reduced regulation from what we had before,” (The Wall Street Journal, November 10, 1982) suggesting that share repurchases were heavily regulated before the adoption of Rule 10b-18. Thus if managers were reluctant to repurchase shares because of the potential risk of being charged with illegal market manipulation, then share repurchase activity should have increased significantly after the adoption of Rule 10b-18 in 1982. Is there an alternative explanation? Bagwell and Shoven (1989, page 135) offer the following explanation: “There are some aspects of share acquisition which are learned only by experience. For repurchases there has been learning through time….” Grinblatt and Titman (1998, page 529) states: “…While we can only speculate on why US firms paid out so much in tax-disadvantage dividends at that time, our best guess is that the decision of financial managers at that time were simply wrong.” However, these alternative explanations do not make any predictions concerning when the change in policy should have come. 15

47 Fed Reg. 53333 (November 26, 1982). Section 9 (a) (2) establishes that it will be illegal “to effect, alone or with one or more other persons, a series of transactions in any security registered on a national securities exchange creating actual or apparent active trading in such security, or raising or depressing the price of such security, for the purpose of inducing the purchase or sale of such securities by others.” Similarly, Section 10 (b) establishes that it will be unlawful “to use or employ, in connection with the purchase or sale of any security registered on a national securities exchange or any security not so registered, any manipulative or deceptive or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.”

16

24

To conduct empirical tests, we divide the sample into the pre-rule 10b-18 period (1972-1982) and the post-rule 10-b18 period (1983-2000). Since the variances of the different measures of share repurchase activity do not appear to be constant through time, we test the null hypothesis that share repurchase activity is similar over these two subperiods by using the Wald statistic, W = (µ I - µ II)2 / (σ2I + σ2II),

(4)

where µ I (µ II) is the mean value of the variable of interest over the period 1972-1983 (1984-2000) and σ2I (σ2II) is the sample variance of µ I (µ II). Since the sample size is relatively small, we use the bounds test proposed by Ohtani and Kobiyashi (1986) to determine the significance levels of the Wald statistics. Consistent with the idea that share repurchase activity was constrained before the adoption of Rule 10b-18, Table 11 shows that all the changes in the measures of share repurchase activity are positive and statistically significant. Before the adoption of Rule 10b-18 (pre-rule period), the average annual expenditure on share repurchase programs (adjusted for inflation) was only $5.5 billion. In contrast, after the adoption of Rule 10b18 (post-rule period), the average annual expenditure on share repurchase programs was $62 billion. This change represents an increase of almost 1,000% in the average annual expenditure. Other measures of share repurchase activity experienced similar increases. In general, the evidence presented in Table 11 suggests that share repurchase activity drastically increased after the adoption of Rule 10b-18. However, these differences may be due to some other factors such as stock market activity, tax changes, or learning by the market. To control for the effect of taxes, we use the tax differential between the top marginal tax rate on ordinary income and the top marginal tax rate on capital gains (TAX). If managers are trying to minimize dividend taxation by buying back shares, then this variable should have a positive coefficient. Finding that the tax benefit of capital gains has had a positive effect on share repurchase activity would reinforce the idea that managers were deterred from repurchasing shares in the past because the tax benefit of capital gains was much larger before the adoption of Rule 10b-18. To control for the effect of the stock market activity, we use the one-year

25

return on the market value of equity of the firms in our main sample (MRET). We also include a time trend variable to control for any learning effect (TIME). To examine the effect of the different factors on the time series behavior of share repurchase programs, we estimate the following time-series regression: ∆(ΣiREPO/ΣiMV)t = β0+β1REGt+β2TAXt+β3TIMEt+β4MRETt +εt.

(5)

Since preliminary tests indicated that the residuals of this model seem to follow a MA(1) process, we assume that: εt = µt + θµt-1.

(6)

Table 12 reports the results from this regression. The coefficient of the dummy that captures the effect of Rule 10b-18 (REG) is positive and significantly different from zero at the 1% level. So even after we control for other factors, the effect of Rule 10b-18 on share repurchase activity appears to be highly significant. Moreover, we note that the coefficient of the tax differential, TAX, is positive and statistically significant, which indicates that share repurchase activity is positively correlated with the relative tax benefit of capital gains (after controlling for the change in regulation).

This result

suggests that taxes are a significant determinant of share repurchase activity.

This

evidence is consistent with the recent findings in Lie and Lie (1999) and Sarig (2000) which indicate that the propensity to repurchase shares increases with the relative tax benefit of capital gains. Overall, the evidence in this section suggests that the adoption of Rule 10b-18 had a positive and significant impact on share repurchase activity. It seems that corporations were deterred from repurchasing shares before the adoption of Rule 10b-18. However, with the adoption of this safe-harbor rule and thus no longer threatened with being charged with stock manipulation, corporations have begun substituting repurchases for dividends. 8. Conclusion

26

In a recent survey conducted by CFO Forum in 1997 (a sample of 1,600 chief financial officers), among the CFOs who responded that they will pay out cash to their shareholders, 5.5% of the CFOs said that they will raise dividends and 95.5% of the CFOs said they will buy back shares.17 Comments such as those of Glenn Davenport, President and CEO of Marrison Health (in 1998) are also consistent with this view: “In our opinion, the reduction in long term capital gains tax rate makes it more efficient to return capital to our shareowner through a stock repurchase program instead of dividends.” The main contribution of our paper is that it provides evidence that indeed corporations have been substituting share repurchases for dividends. We show that the majority of firms that initiate cash payments do so through share repurchases and that many firms that have been paying dividends have also started to repurchase shares as well. The propensity of firms to initiate a dividend payment in the 1990s is by order of magnitudes smaller than it was in the 1970s. Established corporations distribute more of their cash flows through repurchases and less through dividends. Using Lintner’s (1956) dividend model to generate expected future dividend payments, we find that dividend forecast errors are negatively correlated with share repurchase activity. This result implies that the difference between actual and expected dividend payments tends to become more negative as the firm spends more money on share repurchases. This evidence supports the idea that share repurchases and dividends are substitutes. We also show that when firms are engaged in repurchase programs, the market reaction to dividend decreases is not significantly different from zero. Firms that cut their dividends and do not repurchase experience a significantly negative price drop to the announced dividend cut. When investors perceive that dividends are being replaced by repurchases they view the reduction in dividends as less negative. We also show that differential taxes between dividends and capital gains seem to matter in that the market reaction to repurchases is more positive when the tax gains from repurchases relative to dividends are larger.

17

Institutional Investor, August 1997, page 31.

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So if taxes seem to matter and corporations have been repurchasing more and more since the mid 1980s, why did corporations not repurchase more intensively in the past? One alternative is that it simply took a long time for corporations to learn that paying out cash through repurchases would not result in the IRS taxing repurchases at the ordinary income tax rates (like dividends), nor would it bring manipulation charges by the SEC. This is certainly possible, but we argue in this paper that at the minimum, this process was enhanced by the introduction of Rule 10b-18. The Rule provides a safe harbor for repurchasing firms and makes the danger of being charged with manipulation much less severe. Empirically we find that share repurchase activity experienced an upward structural shift after the adoption of Rule 10b-18, consistent with the idea that share repurchases were more restricted in the past. Finally, the combined trend of a decreasing reliance on dividend payment and the increasing reliance on repurchases also implies that nowadays, a more appropriate tool of valuation is total payout rather than dividend payout. For example, some researchers argue that the historically low level of dividend yield is another indication of stock market overvaluation. The evidence here indicates that if we examine the total payout yield, this conclusion may be premature.

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Vermaelen, Theo, 1981, Common stock repurchases and market signaling, Journal of Financial Economics 9, 139-183. White, Hall, 1980, A heteroscedasticity-consistent covariance matrix estimator and a direct test for heteroscedasticity, Econometrica 48, 817-838.

33

Table 1 Aggregate Cash Distributions to Equityholders This table reports annual information on aggregate cash distributions to equityholders for a sample of US firms. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The data sample contains 134,646 firm-year observations and excludes banks, utilities, and insurance companies. Σi represents the aggregation of data by calendar year. ΣiEARN, ΣiDIV, and ΣiREPO are expressed in millions of dollars. ΣiDIV/ ΣiREPO/ ΣiDIV/ ΣiREPO/ ΣiREPO/ ΣiEARN ΣiEARN ΣiMV ΣiMV ΣiDIV Year ΣiEARN ΣiDIV ΣiREPO 1972

41,437

17,633

1,488

42.55%

3.59%

2.19%

0.19%

8.44%

1973

57,511

20,472

3,105

35.60%

5.40%

3.04%

0.46%

15.17%

1974

70,185

26,010

1,575

37.06%

2.24%

5.20%

0.31%

6.06%

1975

65,913

27,431

848

41.62%

1.29%

3.97%

0.12%

3.09%

1976

84,540

32,014

1,592

37.87%

1.88%

3.70%

0.18%

4.97%

1977

95,224

38,243

3,615

40.16%

3.80%

4.63%

0.44%

9.45%

1978

106,423

40,255

4,311

37.83%

4.05%

4.81%

0.52%

10.71%

1979

135,059

46,154

5,446

34.17%

4.03%

4.62%

0.54%

11.80%

1980

136,682

50,555

6,599

36.99%

4.83%

3.87%

0.50%

13.05%

1981

132,963

51,898

6,269

39.03%

4.71%

4.54%

0.55%

12.08%

1982

104,009

52,889

10,561

50.85%

10.15%

4.02%

0.80%

19.97%

1983

130,466

59,641

9,195

45.71%

7.05%

3.62%

0.56%

15.42%

1984

151,854

61,508

28,625

40.50%

18.85%

3.95%

1.84%

46.54%

1985

144,720

72,996

44,104

50.44%

30.48%

3.49%

2.11%

60.42%

1986

133,920

76,337

39,371

57.00%

29.40%

3.13%

1.61%

51.58%

1987

185,145

88,784

55,039

47.95%

29.73%

3.44%

2.13%

61.99%

1988

219,724

108,954

53,640

49.59%

24.41%

3.79%

1.87%

49.23%

1989

226,501

108,963

59,845

48.11%

26.42%

3.03%

1.66%

54.92%

1990

211,826

114,215

46,759

53.92%

22.07%

3.45%

1.41%

40.94%

1991

168,838

115,949

26,126

68.67%

15.47%

2.72%

0.61%

22.53%

1992

171,498

111,320

33,296

64.91%

19.42%

2.54%

0.76%

29.91%

1993

210,036

116,668

36,378

55.55%

17.32%

2.27%

0.71%

31.18%

1994

303,136

135,911

46,589

44.83%

15.37%

2.46%

0.84%

34.28%

1995

355,534

156,669

72,467

44.07%

20.38%

2.13%

0.98%

46.26%

1996

438,505

176,019

103,337

40.14%

23.57%

1.94%

1.14%

58.71%

1997

461,392

181,113

146,753

39.25%

31.81%

1.55%

1.26%

81.03%

1998

438,693

208,103

199,190

47.44%

45.41%

1.48%

1.41%

95.72%

1999

516,174

197,782

202,844

38.32%

39.30%

1.06%

1.09%

102.56%

2000

464,851

171,750

194,263

36.95%

41.79%

1.20%

1.36%

113.11%

34

Table 2 Firm Characteristics by Payout Policy This table reports descriptive statistics by payout policy for a sample of US firms. We determine the payout policy of a firm by observing the cash disbursements of the firm over the following time periods: 1972-1975, 1976-1979, 1980-1983, 1984-1987, 1988-1991, 1992-1995, and 1996-2000. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The data sample contains 134,646 firm-year observations and excludes banks, utilities, and insurance companies. ASSETS is the book value of assets (Compustat item #6). MB is the market-to-book ratio [(book value of assets + market value of equity - book value of equity) / book value of assets]. CASH is the book value of cash and short –term investments (Compustat item #1) scaled by the book value of the total assets. ROA is the operating income before depreciation (Compustat item #13) scaled by the book value of the total assets. σ(ROA) is the standard deviation of ROA. σ(ROA) is calculated over the same time periods used to determine the payout policy of a firm. NOPER is the non-operating income before depreciation (Compustat item #61) scaled by the book value of the total assets. MB, CASH and NOPER have been truncated at the 99th percentile. ROA has been truncated at the first and 99th percentiles. AGE > 8 is the proportion of firms that have been traded in a major exchange for more than 8 years. DIV/TOTAL is the total amount of dividends in each group scaled by the aggregate amount of dividends. REPO/TOTAL is the total amount of share repurchases in each group scaled by the aggregate amount of share repurchases.

MV

DIV=0, REPO=0 Mean Median N 167.5 16.3 15,461

DIV>0, REPO=0 Mean Median N 1,076.2 102.8 8,340

DIV=0, REPO>0 Mean Median N 359.0 28.2 8,202

DIV>0, REPO>0 Mean Median N 1,803.6 144.9 10,307

ASSETS

162.3

20.3

15,456

1,723.4

166.9

8,340

311.3

41.5

8,202

2,962.1

235.7

10,307

MB

1.94

1.38

14,089

1.36

1.11

8,278

1.65

1.23

7,996

1.35

1.13

10,279

CASH

15.0%

7.6%

15,272

9.3%

5.5%

8,310

15.8%

9.2%

8,158

9.2%

5.5%

10,302

ROA

-3.8%

3.9%

15,029

14.1%

13.8%

8,043

5.0%

9.1%

8,122

14.5%

14.1%

10,046

σ(ROA)

9.4%

6.1%

5,398

3.6%

2.6%

5,224

7.5%

4.9%

4,629

3.4%

2.5%

7,712

NOPER

1.8%

1.1%

14,555

1.3%

0.9%

8,092

1.7%

1.2%

7,930

1.3%

0.9%

10,094

AGE > 8

26.5%

-

12,255

56.1%

-

5,018

34.1%

-

6,796

68.4%

-

7,313

DIV/TOTAL

0%

-

-

31.0%

-

-

0%

-

-

69.0%

-

-

REPO/TOTAL

0%

-

-

0%

-

-

12.1%

-

-

87.9%

-

-

35

Table 3 Relation between Cash Flow Volatility and Payout Policy This table examines the effects of cash flow volatility on payout policy for a sample of US firms that have been on the Compustat files over the entire period 1972-2000 and which have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). ROA is the operating income before depreciation (Compustat item #13) scaled by the book value of the total assets. σ(ROA) is the standard deviation of ROA. σ(ROA) is calculated over the following time periods: 1972-1975, 1976-1979, 1980-1983, 1984-1987, 19881991, 1992-1995, and 1996-2000. NOPER is the non-operating income before depreciation (Compustat item #61) scaled by the book value of the total assets. DIV/EARN is the dividend payout ratio. REPO/EARN is the repurchase payout ratio. DIV/EARN, REPO/EARN and NOPER have been truncated at the 99th percentile. ROA has been truncated at the first and 99th percentiles. The data sample contains 452 firms. Panel A: Period 1972-1979 Mean Median

σ(ROA) 3.35% 2.35%

NOPER 1.25% 0.93%

DIV/EARN 26.57% 25.59%

REPO/EARN 5.98% 0.00%

DIV/EARN 36.46% 32.56%

REPO/EARN 16.41% 3.43%

DIV/EARN 35.15% 31.15%

REPO/EARN 22.80% 11.48%

Panel B: Period 1980-1991 Mean Median

σ(ROA) 3.57% 2.69%

NOPER 1.73% 1.35% Panel C: Period 1992-2000

Mean Median

σ(ROA) 3.15% 2.33%

NOPER 1.10% 0.73%

36

Table 4 Transition Probabilities of Changing Payout Policy This table reports the transition probabilities of changing from payout policy i at time T-1 to payout policy j at time T for a sample of US firms. We determine the payout policy of a firm by observing the cash disbursements of the firm over the following time periods: 1972-1975, 1976-1979, 1980-1983, 1984-1987, 1988-1991, 1992-1995, and 1996-2000. The transition probabilities are equal to the number of firms changing their payout policy from i to j scaled by the total number of firms with payout policy i at time T-1. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). Panel A: Period 1972-2000 T DIV=0,REPO=0 DIV>0,REPO=0 DIV=0,REPO>0

T-1

DIV=0,REPO=0

64.01%

4.62%

27.14%

4.23%

DIV>0,REPO=0

8.28%

54.88%

3.11%

33.73%

DIV=0,REPO>0

36.37%

2.96%

51.15%

9.53%

DIV>0,REPO>0

4.91%

22.65%

4.24%

68.20%

Panel B: Period 1972-1979 T DIV=0,REPO=0 DIV>0,REPO=0 DIV=0,REPO>0

T-1

49.02%

22.96%

14.33%

13.68%

DIV>0,REPO=0

5.99%

64.44%

0.86%

28.72%

DIV=0,REPO>0

25.17%

15.10%

30.66%

29.06%

DIV>0,REPO>0

3.14%

37.52%

1.82%

57.52%

DIV>0,REPO>0

DIV=0,REPO=0

65.18%

3.96%

26.43%

4.43%

DIV>0,REPO=0

8.95%

53.68%

3.18%

34.20%

DIV=0,REPO>0

38.34%

1.98%

51.21%

8.47%

DIV>0,REPO>0

5.50%

22.04%

4.56%

67.90%

Panel D: Period 1992-2000 T DIV=0,REPO=0 DIV>0,REPO=0 DIV=0,REPO>0

T-1

DIV>0,REPO>0

DIV=0,REPO=0

Panel C: Period 1980-1991 T DIV=0,REPO=0 DIV>0,REPO=0 DIV=0,REPO>0

T-1

DIV>0,REPO>0

DIV>0,REPO>0

DIV=0,REPO=0

65.30%

2.43%

29.62%

2.65%

DIV>0,REPO=0

8.72%

49.94%

4.69%

36.65%

DIV=0,REPO>0

36.98%

1.24%

55.51%

6.28%

DIV>0,REPO>0

4.92%

16.38%

4.96%

73.74%

37

Table 5 Relation between Dividend Forecast Errors and Share Repurchase Yield This table examines the empirical relation between dividend forecast errors and share repurchase yield for a sample of US firms. We define the dividend forecast error as ERRORt,i = [∆DIVt,i - (β1,i + β2,i EARNt,i + β3,i DIVt-1,i )]/MVt-1,i where ∆DIVt,i is the actual change in dividends at time t, EARNt,i is the earnings at time t, DIVt-1,i is the dividend level at t-1, and MVt-1,i is the market value of equity at time t-1. The coefficients β1,i , β2,i , and β3,i are the parameters of Lintner’s (1956) model that have been estimated for each firm over a pre-forecast period. To be included in the sample, each firm must have paid dividends continuously over the entire pre-forecast period. If the absolute value of the forecasting error is greater than 5%, then the observation is eliminated to reduce the effect of extreme values. RYIELD is the total expenditure on share repurchases at time t scaled by the market value of equity at time t-1. DYIELD is the total expenditure on dividends at time t scaled by the market value of equity at time t-1. The number of observations varies across groups because RYIELD is not uniformly distributed. RYIELD and DYIELD have been truncated at the 99th percentile. a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively. Groups Ranked by Share Repurchase Yield Pre-Forecast Entire 1 5 2 3 4 (5-1) Period Sample (Low) (High) 1973-1983 ERROR Mean Median N

0.017% -0.009% 9,521

RYIELD Mean Median N DYIELD Mean Median N

2.82% a 2.70% 9,521

1973-1990 ERROR Mean Median N

-0.088% a -0.026% 4,116

RYIELD Mean Median N DYIELD Mean Median N

2.64% a 2.48% 4,116

b

a

b

-0.034% a -0.041% 896

a

0.044% a 0.012% 4,354

0.030% b -0.005% 3,558

1.61% a 0.06% 9,521

a

0.00% 0.00% 4,354

1.01% a 0.81% 3,558

a

4.29% a 4.19% 896

a

7.27% a 7.06% 342

a

3.00% a 2.86% 4,354

a

2.66% a 2.56% 3,558

a

2.68% a 2.57% 896

a

2.52% a 2.41% 342

a

a

a

a

-0.119% a -0.072% 429

-0.149% a -0.108% 342

-0.144% a -0.177% 371

a

-0.188% a -0.189% -

a

14.61% a 12.70% -

a

14.61% a 12.70% 371

a

2.82% a 2.79% 371

a

a

-0.060% -0.001% 1,713

-0.079% a -0.021% 1,712

-0.237% a -0.117% 154

1.47% a 0.16% 4,116

a

0.00% 0.00% 1,713

1.04% a 0.86% 1,712

a

4.23% a 4.11% 429

a

7.21% a 7.00% 154

a

2.88% a 2.75% 1,713

a

2.53% a 2.39% 1,712

a

2.41% a 2.28% 429

a

2.06% a 1.99% 154

a

a

b

-0.18% -0.07% -

-0.326% a -0.221% 108

a

-0.266% a -0.220% -

a

12.31% a 11.34% -

a

12.31% a 11.34% 108

a

2.32% a 2.23% 108

a

a

a

a

-0.56% a -0.52% -

38

Table 6 Cross-Sectional Regressions of the Dividend Forecast Error on Several Factors This table reports average estimates of cross-sectional regressions of the dividend forecast error on several factors for a sample of US firms. We define the dividend forecast error as ERRORt,i = [∆DIVt,i - (β1,i + β2,i EARNt,i + β3,i DIVt-1,i )]/MVt-1,i where ∆DIVt,i is the actual change in dividends at time t, EARNt,i is the earnings at time t, DIVt-1,i is the dividend level at t-1, and MVt-1,i is the market value of equity at time t-1. The coefficients β1,i , β2,i , and β3,i are the parameters of Lintner’s (1956) model that have been estimated for each firm over a pre-forecast period. To be included in the sample, each firm must have paid dividends continuously over the entire pre-forecast period. If the absolute value of the forecasting error is greater than 5%, then the observation is eliminated to reduce the effect of extreme values. RYIELD is the total expenditure on share repurchases at time t scaled by the market value of equity at time t-1. Log(MV) is the logarithm of the market value of equity. ROA is the operating income before depreciation scaled by the book value of the total assets. σ(ROA) is the standard deviation of ROA over the three years surrounding the firm-year observation. NOPER is the non-operating income before depreciation scaled by the book value of the total assets. DEBT is the book-value of total long-term debt plus the book-value of total short-term debt scaled by the book value of the total assets. RYIELD, NOPER, and DEBT have been truncated at the 99th percentile. ROA has been truncated at the first and 99th percentiles. We use Fama-MacBeth type regressions to estimate the coefficients and standard errors. First, we estimate year-by-year annual average coefficients. Then, we estimate time-series averages for each coefficient. We estimate the standard errors using the Hansen-Hodrick standard error correction method. a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively. Wald-statistics are reported in parentheses. Dependent Variable: ERROR Pre-Forecast Period

1973-1983

1973-1990

Intercept

-0.00001 (0.00)

-0.00397 (75.01)

a

RYIELD

-0.01312 (11.44)

a

-0.01766 (14.50)

a

log(MV)

0.00027 (9.57)

a

0.00042 (29.19)

ROA

-0.00894 (37.62)

a

0.00033 (0.03)

σ (ROA)

-0.00228 (0.25)

0.00419 (0.23)

NOPER

0.02358 (8.17)

a

0.02488 (2.33)

DEBT

-0.00158 (7.56)

a

0.00060 (0.66)

a

39

Table 7 The Effect of Share Repurchases on the Market Reaction to Dividend Decreases: Univariate Analysis This table examines the effect of share repurchases on the market reaction around the announcement of dividend decreases for firms that reduce their cash dividends during the period 1974-1996. Each observation in the sample satisfies the following criteria: (1) the firm’s financial data is available on CRSP and Compustat; (2) its dividend is paid quarterly; (3) the dividend is taxable; (4) the cash dividend change is greater than 10%; (5) the cash dividend is not an omission. To assess the effect of share repurchase programs on the market reaction around the announcement of dividend decreases, we classify firms as repurchasing firms or non-repurchasing firms. To be classified as a repurchasing firm, a firm must have repurchased shares over the two years prior to the announcement of the dividend decrease. CAR is the three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of the dividend change. CHGDIV is the percentage change in the cash dividend payment. The significance levels of the means (medians) are based on a two-tailed t-test (two-tailed Wilcoxon rank test). a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively.

Entire Sample CAR Mean Median N

-1.59% a -0.58% 1,253

CHGDIV Mean Median N

-43.42% a -44.44% 1,255

a

a

NonRepurchasing Firms a

-1.93% a -0.72% 965 a

-43.91% a -44.44% 967

Repurchasing Firms

Difference (Repurchasing – Non-Repurchasing)

-0.45% 0.10% 288

1.48% a 0.82% -

a

a

-41.78% a -43.54% 288

b

2.13% b 0.90% -

40

Table 8 The Effect of Share Repurchases on the Market Reaction to Dividend Decreases: Multivariate Analysis This table reports the average estimated coefficients of the following cross-sectional regression: CARit = β0 + β1 DUMREPOit + β2 CHGDIVit + β3 SIZEit + β4 DYIELDit + β5 DROA0it + ε i. The sample consists of firms that reduce their cash dividends during the period 1974-1996. Each observation in the sample satisfies the following criteria: (1) the firm’s financial data is available on CRSP and Compustat; (2) its dividend is paid quarterly; (3) the dividend is taxable; (4) the cash dividend change is greater than 10%; (5) the cash dividend is not an omission. CAR is the three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of the dividend decrease. DUMREPO is a dummy variable that is equal to 1 if the firm has repurchased shares over the two years prior to the announcement of the dividend decrease, 0 otherwise. CHGDIV is the percentage change in the cash dividend payment. SIZE is the logarithm of the book value of the total assets at the time of the announcement of the cash dividend decrease. DYIELD is the dividend yield at the time of the announcement of the cash dividend decrease. ROA is the operating income before depreciation scaled by the book value of the total assets. DROA0 is the change in ROA from year -1 to year 0 (year of the event). DYIELD has been truncated at the 99th percentile. ROA has been truncated at the first and 99th percentiles. We use Fama-MacBeth type regressions to estimate the coefficients and standard errors. First, we estimate year-by-year annual average coefficients. Then, we estimate time-series averages for each coefficient. We estimate the standard errors using the Hansen-Hodrick standard error correction method. a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively. Wald-statistics are reported in parentheses. Dependent Variable: CAR Intercept

3.6402 (6.48)

a

DUMREPO

1.1423 (7.45)

a

CHGDIV

0.0640 (15.56)

SIZE

0.10927 (0.58)

a

DYIELD

-67.1891 (58.46)

DROA0

12.0684 (6.08)

a

a

41

Table 9 The Effect of Taxes on the Market Reaction to Share Repurchase Announcements: Univariate Analysis This table examines the effect of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on the market reaction around the announcement of open market share repurchases for a sample of firms that establish open market share repurchase programs over the period 1980-1997 and that satisfy the following criteria: 1) the firm’s financial data is available on CRSP and Compustat, 2) the share repurchase announcement does not coincide with the announcement of a dividend change, 3) the firm discloses the number or the percentage of shares sought during the duration of the share repurchase program, and 4) the announcement of the share repurchase program is not made during the last quarter of 1987. To assess the effect of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on the market reaction around the announcement of share repurchase programs, we divide the sample into two sub-samples: 1) firms that announced open market share repurchase programs prior to the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (pre-tax reform) and 2) firms that announced open market share repurchase programs after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (post-tax reform). CAR is the three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of the share repurchase announcement. PSOUGHT is equal to the amount of shares authorized for repurchase scaled by the number of shares outstanding at the time of the announcement. We define a first-time announcement as the first announcement made by a particular firm over the period 1980-1997. The significance levels of the means (medians) are based on a two-tailed t-test (two-tailed Wilcoxon rank test). a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively.

Panel A: Entire Sample Entire Period

Pre-Tax Reform

Post-Tax Reform

Difference (Post-Pre)

CAR Mean Median N

2.57% a 1.77% 3,935

a

3.49% a 2.56% 540

a

2.42% a 1.65% 3,395

a

-1.07% a -0.91% -

PSOUGTH Mean Median N

6.52% a 5.00% 3,935

a

5.88% a 4.60% 540

a

6.62% a 5.00% 3,395

a

0.74% a 0.40% -

Pre-Tax Reform

Post-Tax Reform

Difference (Post-Pre)

a

a

Panel B: First-Time Announcements Entire Period CAR Mean Median N

3.13% a 2.19% 2,331

a

4.03% a 3.09% 416

a

2.94% a 1.89% 1,915

a

-1.09% a -1.20% -

PSOUGTH Mean Median N

6.70% a 5.00% 2,331

a

5.87% a 4.60% 416

a

6.88% a 5.00% 1,915

a

1.01% a 0.40% -

b

a

42

Table 10 The Effect of Taxes on the Market Reaction to Share Repurchase Announcements: Multivariate Analysis This table reports the estimated coefficients of the following cross-sectional regression: CARit = β0 + β1 TAXt + β2 Log(PSOUGHTit) + β3 SIZEit + β4 DYIELDit + ε i . The sample consists of firms that establish open market share repurchase programs over the period 1980-1997 and that satisfy the following criteria: (i) the firm’s financial data is available on CRSP and COMPUSTAT, (ii) the share repurchase announcement does not coincide with the announcement of a dividend change, (iii) the firm discloses the number or the percentage of shares sought during the duration of the share repurchase program, and (iv) the announcement of the share repurchase program is not made during the last quarter of 1987. CAR is the three-day cumulative abnormal return around the announcement of the share repurchase announcement. TAX is the tax differential between the top marginal tax rate on ordinary income and the top marginal tax rate on capital gains. Log (PSOUGHT) is the logarithm of the amount of shares authorized for repurchase scaled by the number of shares outstanding at the time of the announcement. SIZE is the logarithm of the book value of the total assets at the time of the announcement of the repurchase program. DYIELD is the dividend yield at the time of the announcement of the repurchase program. DYIELD has been truncated at the 99th percentile. We define a first-time announcement is defined as the first announcement made by a particular firm over the period 1980-1997. The standard errors of the coefficients have been adjusted for heteroskedasticity using White’s (1980) procedure. The significance levels of the estimated coefficients are based on a two-tailed t-test. a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively. T-statistics are reported in parentheses. Dependent Variable = CAR

Intercept

Entire Sample a 0.077835 (9.21)

First-Time Announcements a 0.091661 (7.74)

b

0.030039 (2.14)

a

0.00761 (2.72)

a

-0.00760 (-6.02)

b

TAX

0.022787 (1.98)

Log(PSOUGHT)

0.006323 (3.23)

SIZE

-0.00607 (-7.15)

DYIELD

-0.00777 (-0.14)

0.010623 (0.15)

3.46% 3,658

3.65% 2,120

R2-Adjusted N

a

a

43

Table 11 The Effect of Rule 10b-18 on Share Repurchase Activity This table examines the effect of Rule 10b-18 on several measures of share repurchase activity. To assess the effect of this regulatory change, we divide the sample into two sub-periods: 1) 1972-1982 (pre-rule) and 2) 1983-2000 (post-rule). We test the null hypothesis that share repurchase activity is similar over these two sub-periods by using the Wald statistic, W = (µ I - µ II)2 / (σ2I + σ2II), where µ I (µ II) is the sample mean of the variable of interest over the period 1972-1982 (1983-2000) and σ2I (σ2II) is the sample variance of µ I (µ II). The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (FullCoverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The data sample contains 134,646 firm-year observations and excludes banks, utilities, and insurance companies. ADREPO is REPO adjusted for inflation using the producer price index (PPI). PAY is the total payout (REPO + DIV). Σi represents the aggregation of data by calendar year. We use the bounds test proposed by Ohtani and Kobiyashi (1986) to determine the significance levels of the Wald statistics. a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively.

Entire Sample (1972-2000)

Pre-Rule (1972-1982)

Post-Rule (1983-2000)

Difference (Post-Pre)

Wald Test Statistic

ΣiADREPO (millions of $) Mean

40,575

5,528

61,993

56,465

16.6

a

ΣiREPO/ΣiDIV Mean

38.31%

10.44%

55.35%

44.91%

28.7

a

ΣiREPO/ΣiPAY Mean

24.53%

9.29%

33.85%

24.56%

51.0

a

ΣiREPO/ΣiEARN Mean

17.39%

4.18%

25.46%

21.28%

47.9

a

ΣiREPO/ΣiMV Mean

0.96%

0.42%

1.30%

0.88%

30.4

a

44

Table 12 Repurchase activity and the enactment of Rule 10-b-18: A time series regression This table reports the estimated coefficients of the following time-series regression: ∆(ΣiREPO/ΣiMV)t = β0 + β1REGt + β2TAXt + β3TIMEt + β4MRETt + εt, where εt is assumed to follow an MA(1) process, εt = µt + θµt-1. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The data sample contains 136,646 firmyear observations and excludes banks, utilities, and insurance companies. REG is a dummy variable that is equal to 1 if the year is greater than or equal to 1983, 0 otherwise. TAX is a the tax differential between the top marginal tax rate on ordinary income and the top marginal tax rate on capital gains. TIME is a time trend variable. MRET is the one-year return on the aggregate market value of common stock. Σi represents the aggregation of data by calendar year. a, b, and c denote significantly different from zero at the 1%, 5%, and 10% level, respectively. T-statistics are reported in parentheses. Equation 1

-0.006664 (-5.79)

a

0.003918 (3.98)

a

0.019725 (7.31) 0.000014 (0.32)

β0

-0.006143 (-5.26)

β1

0.003778 (3.76)

β2

0.018707 (6.70) 0.000008 (0.15)

β3 β4 R2-Adjusted

Equation 2

a

a

a

a

-0.000879 (-0.19) 38.65%

40.28%

45

Figure 1 Cash Distributions to Equityholders This figure depicts the equally-weighted average total payout ratio, dividend payout ratio, and repurchase payout ratio for a sample of US firms. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (FullCoverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The sample used in this analysis only includes firms with positive earnings. To mitigate the effect of outliers, we eliminate observations with a total payout ratio greater than 1.

0.35 0.3 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 1972 1975 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 Year ---▲--- Total Payout Ratio ---■--- Dividend Payout Ratio ---●--- Repurchase Payout Ratio

46

Figure 2 Distribution of Firms by Payout Method This figure depicts the distribution of firms by payout method for a sample of US firms. We determine the payout policy of a firm by observing the cash disbursements of the firm over a period of a year. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The data sample contains 136,646 firm-year observations and excludes banks, utilities, and insurance companies.

0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 1972 1975 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 Year ---■--- Proportion of firms that payout only with dividends ---▲--- Proportion of firms that payout with dividends and repurchases ---●--- Proportion of firms that payout only with repurchases

47

Figure 3 Cash Distribution Initiations This figure depicts the proportion of cash distribution initiations by payout method for a sample of US firms. We define a cash distribution initiation as the first time that a firm pays dividends and/or repurchases shares after 1973. The data sample consists of all firm-year observations on Compustat (Full-Coverage, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Research, and Back Files) over the period 1972-2000 that have available information on the following variables: REPO, DIV, EARN, and MV. REPO is the expenditure on the purchase of common and preferred stocks (Compustat item # 115) minus any reduction in the value (redemption value) of the net number of preferred shares outstanding (Compustat item # 56). DIV is the total dollar amount of dividends declared on the common stock (Compustat item #21). EARN is the earnings before extraordinary items (Compustat item #18). MV is the market value of common stock (Compustat item #24 times Compustat item # 25). The data sample contains 134,646 firmyear observations and excludes banks, utilities, and insurance companies.

0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 1974 1977 1980 1983 1986 1989 1992 1995 1998 Year ---■--- Proportion of firms that payout only with dividends ---▲--- Proportion of firms that payout with dividends and repurchases ---●--- Proportion of firms that payout only with repurchases

48