Learning and the Value of the Firm
NBER Working Paper No. 3480
The paper studies under what conditions the value of the firm occasionally increases for a while before it suddenly drops, like a "bubble". We consider the environment where the trend of net cash flow from a firm's production depends on uncertain quality of a manager, and the manager is occasionally replaced by a new manager. People know whether the manager is replaced, but they do not know the exact quality of the manager so that they gradually learn about it. We show that, if the current manager is good, the value of the firm tends to increase more rapidly than the net cash flow because people become more and more optimistic about the current manager, until the optimism disappears with sudden retire of the manager. The value of the firms appears to contain a bubble because the value gradually deviates from the present value of the current net cash flow until the deviation disappears. We extend the basic model to allow the firm to replace unsuccessful managers endogenously, and show that the value of the firm more frequently deviates upward from the present value of the current net cash flow than downward.