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We show that firm valuations fell after a key expense became more visible in financial statements. FAS 123-R required firms to deduct option compensation costs from earnings, instead of disclosing them in footnotes. Firms that granted high option pay experienced earnings reductions, while fundamentals remained unchanged. These firms were more likely to miss earnings forecasts, and they experienced recommendation downgrades and valuation declines. Our findings suggest that market participants exhibited limited attention to option costs before FAS 123-R. As we reuse the FAS 123-R natural experiment, we show how one can address confounding channels by integrating reduced-form and structural estimation.


This article was originally published in Journal of Financial Economics, volume 154, in 2024.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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