December 2016

Options, Equity Risks, and the Value of Capital Structure Adjustments

Paul Borochin and Jie Yang


We use exchange-traded options to identify risks relevant to capital structure adjustments in firms. These forward-looking market-based risk measures provide significant explanatory power in predicting net leverage changes in excess of accounting data. They matter most during contractionary periods and for growth firms. We form market-based indices that capture firms' magnitudes of, and propensity for, net leverage increases. Firms with larger predicted leverage increases outperform firms with lower predicted increases by 3.1% to 3.9% per year in buy-and-hold abnormal returns. Finally, consistent with the quality, leverage, and distress risk puzzles, firms with lower predicted leverage increases are riskier but earn lower abnormal returns.

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Keywords: Capital Structure, Financial Leverage, Implied Volatility, Options


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Last Update: June 19, 2020