The Stock Market Valuation of Research and Development Expenditures
Louis K.C. Chan, Josef Lakonishok, Theodore Sougiannis
NBER Working Paper No. 7223
We examine whether stock prices fully reflect the value of firms' intangible assets, focusing on research and development (R&D). Since intangible assets are not reported on financial statements under current U.S. accounting standards and R&D spending is expensed, the valuation problem may be especially challenging. Nonetheless we find that historically the stock returns of firms doing R&D on average matches the returns on firms with no R&D. For companies engaged in R&D, high R&D intensity has a distinctive effect on returns for two groups of stocks. Within the set of growth stocks, R&D-intensive stocks tend to out-perform stocks with little or no R&D. Companies with high R&D relative to equity market value (who tend to have poor past returns) show strong signs of mis-pricing. In both cases the market apparently fails to give sufficient credit for firms' R&D investments. Our exploratory investigation of the effects of advertising on returns yields similar results. We also provide evidence that R&D intensity is positively associated with return volatility, everything else equal. Insofar as the association reflects investors' lack of information about firms' R&D activity, increased accounting disclosure may be beneficial.
Published: Louis K. C. Chan, 2001. "The Stock Market Valuation of Research and Development Expenditures," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(6), pages 2431-2456, December.