Another R&D Anomaly?

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C. Catherine Chiang
Yilun Shi
Lin Zhao


R&D, Market Anomaly, Market Valuation, Market States, Risk


In this paper, we investigate the relation between stock returns and R&D spending under different market conditions. Our empirical evidence suggests that investors response to R&D activities varies according to stock market status.

Following the conventional definitions of markets, we first categorize the market into four different states: slightly up (up by 0-20%), bull (up by more than 20%), slightly down (down by 0-20%), and bear (down by more than 20%). Using firms in high-tech industries from 1992 to 2009 as our sample, we show that investors value R&D spending consistently positively only when the market (proxied by the S&P 500) is up. R&D is valued less in the downward market and R&D response coefficients even turn negative during bear markets. However, earnings response coefficients are consistently positive regardless of market status. The results remain unchanged after we control for beta, bankruptcy risk, size, and different measuring windows. Our findings cannot be explained by risk-based hypothesis.

The study advances our understanding of the relation between stock returns and R&D activities by empirically documenting its variations in market valuation across different market states; particularly, we found empirical evidence that R&D response coefficients in the down markets are negative. The study also provides additional input to the ongoing debate on finding the appropriate accounting treatment for intangible assets.


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