Institutional ownership and dividend policy: A framework based on tax clientele, information signaling and agency costs.
Description: This study is an empirical examination of a new theory that links dividends to institutional ownership in a framework of both information signaling and agency costs. Under this theory put forth by Allen, Bernardo and Welch in 2000, dividends are paid out to attract tax-favored institutional investors, thereby signaling good firm quality and/or more efficient monitoring. This is based on the premise that institutions are considered sophisticated investors with superior ability and stronger incentive to be informed about the firm quality compared to retail investors. On the agency level, institutional investors display monitoring capabilities, and can detect and correct managerial pitfalls, thus their presence serves as an assurance that the firm will remain well run. The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the implications of the theory by testing various aspects of the relationship between dividends and institutional holdings. Unlike the prevalent literature on this topic, I give specific attention to the different types of institutional investors and their incentives to invest in dividend paying stocks. Moreover, I analyze the signaling and the agency effects on the market reaction to dividend initiations within the framework proposed by the theory. Finally, I test the smoothing effect institutions have on dividends by examining the firm's propensity to increase dividends given the level of institutional ownership. I find institutional holders to respond positively to dividend initiation announcements as they adjust their portfolios by buying or increasing their holdings of the dividend paying stock following the announcement. I also find that this response is displayed more strongly among tax-favored institutions. My test results also reveal that positive abnormal returns to dividend initiation announcements are a decreasing function of institutional holdings in the dividend initiating firm, and that this mitigating effect of institutional ownership on the market reaction to dividend initiations is stronger for firms ...
Date: August 2008
Creator: Zaghloul Bichara, Lina