Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Anand M. Vijh


This thesis comprises of three essays. The first essay is titled 'Do Acquiring Firms Manage Earnings?' and is co-authored with Professor Anand M. Vijh. The second essay is titled 'Do Firms Have a Target Leverage? Evidence from Credit Markets' and is joint work with Professors Anand M. Vijh and Redouane Elkamhi. The third is essay is single authored and titled 'Bondholder Wealth Effects of Fraudulent Reporting.'

In the first essay, we investigate possible earnings management by inflating discretionary accruals in a sample of 1,719 cash acquirers and 895 stock acquirers during 1989-2005. Following previous literature, we document higher ROA-matched discretionary accruals for stock acquirers than for cash acquirers. However, simulation evidence with quarterly data shows that ROA-matched discretionary accruals are misspecified for both high-growth and low-growth firms. This is relevant to the current investigation because the median sales growth rate equals 12.1% for cash acquirers and 38.5% for stock acquirers (besides similar differences in other growth measures). We propose a new discretionary accrual measure that controls for both ROA and sales growth. This measure is well-specified and powerful in detecting earnings management in stratified random samples, and it leads to an insignificant difference between discretionary accruals of cash and stock acquirers. Other tests of acquirer incentives to manage earnings, market reaction to earnings management, and time delay between earnings announcement and merger announcement strengthen the evidence against earnings management attributed to stock acquisitions.

In the second essay, we propose credit market based test of whether firms have a target leverage. The static tradeoff theory of capital structure hypothesizes that firms have a target leverage which optimizes firm value in the presence of benefits and costs of leverage (such as taxes and bankruptcy costs). If firms adjust their actual leverage toward this target leverage over time, then rational investors should consider both current and target leverage in pricing contracts whose value depends on the firm's default risk. Using a large sample of corporate bonds and credit default swap (CDS) contracts during 2000 to 2007, we document evidence consistent with this prediction. In particular, target leverage is both an economically and statistically significant determinant of bond and CDS spreads, and its role increases with contract maturity. Credit ratings also reflect the effect of target leverage, which suggests that the credit rating agencies rate firms as if their capital structure decisions are consistent with the tradeoff theory.

In the third and final essay, I examine how the disclosure of fraudulent reporting affects bondholder wealth, credit ratings, and contract features of new bond issues. I find that fraud announcements trigger swift, sharp, and long lasting credit rating downgrades and are associated with significant declines in bondholder wealth. An examination of new bond issues confirms a significant increase in both the yield spread and the gross spread charged by the investment bank compared to pre-fraud levels. Moreover, a significant proportion of bonds issued after a fraud contain call provisions that are more expensive in the short run but may be potentially value maximizing in the long run if credit conditions improve. Thus, I argue that managers are optimistic that the increase in the cost of debt induced by the fraud is temporary. However, contrary to managers' optimistic beliefs, I find that corporate credit ratings, once decreased, remain significantly depressed for at least three years following the fraud announcement.


capital structure, CDS, corporate bond, credit markets, earnings management, fraud


2, vi, 148 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 141-148).


Copyright 2010 Raunaq Sushil Pungaliya