NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Variability of IPO Initial Returns

Michelle Lowry, Micah S. Officer, G. William Schwert

NBER Working Paper No. 12295
Issued in June 2006
NBER Program(s):   AP

The monthly volatility of IPO initial returns is substantial, fluctuates dramatically over time, and is considerably larger during "hot" IPO markets. Consistent with IPO theory, the volatility of initial returns is higher among firms whose value is more difficult to estimate, i.e., among firms with higher information asymmetry. Our findings highlight underwriters' difficulty in valuing companies characterized by high uncertainty, and, as a result, raise serious questions about the efficacy of the traditional firm commitment underwritten IPO process. One implication of our results is that alternate mechanisms, such as auctions, may be beneficial, particularly for firms that value price discovery over the auxiliary services provided by underwriters.

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This paper was revised on November 22, 2008

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12295

Published: Michelle Lowry & Micah S. Officer & G. William Schwert, 2010. "The Variability of IPO Initial Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(2), pages 425-465, 04.

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