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Three essays in empirical corporate finance Open Access


Other title
market timing
credit rating
information asymmetry
idiosyncratic risk
security issuances
capital structure
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Maung, Min T
Supervisor and department
Mehrotra, Vikas (Finance and Management Science)
Examining committee member and department
Young, Denise (Economics)
Scholnick, Barry (Marketing, Business Economics and Law)
Hasan, Iftekhar (Finance and Accounting)
Marosi, Andras (Finance and Management Science)
McLean, David (Finance and Management Science)
Faculty of Business

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This thesis presents three essays on credit ratings of regulated utilities, dividend signaling, and asymmetric information and security issuances and repurchases. Chapter 2 investigates the practices of credit rating agencies by using the regulated utility industry as a natural testing ground. Following deregulation and the Enron scandal, the general opinion among industry professionals is that utilities are being punished by rating agencies. Contrary to this popular belief, we find that the utility credit ratings are significantly higher compared to those of other firms, and this significance is more pronounced in the post-deregulation period. Although rating agencies often cite regulatory reasons for placing utilities on negative credit watches, these firms’ ratings are rarely downgraded after being placed on negative watches. Chapter 3 provides a rational explanation for the disappearing dividend trend. Dividends serve as signaling device and, under models of dividend signaling under information asymmetry, cost of signaling increases with volatility of firms’ cash flows. Declining propensities to pay dividends imply that (1) information asymmetries have become lower and/or (2) cost of signaling has increased. We find evidence consistent with both. In particular, firms with higher information asymmetries and lower stock price informativeness are more likely to pay dividends: the increasing stock price informativeness has made dividend signaling less valuable, and a significant portion of disappearing dividend trend could be explained by rising risk and increasing stock price informativeness. Chapter 4 investigates the motivations for debt and equity issuances and repurchases in hot and cold markets. I find that firms issue equity in hot markets to reduce adverse selection costs associated with asymmetric information. In particular, firms issuing equity in hot markets possess high asymmetric information while firms issuing equity in cold markets possess less severe asymmetric information. I also find that credit ratings and market-to-book ratios could explain why firms might repurchase equity or issue debt in hot markets rather than issue equity: firms with high credit ratings and low market-to-book ratios are more likely to issue debt even in hot equity markets, and firms with low market-to-book ratios are more likely to repurchase equity in any market.
License granted by Min Maung ( on 2010-08-30T18:33:22Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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