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Stock and Bond Return Comovement as a Different Way to Assess Information Content: The Case of Debt Covenant Violation Disclosures

Paul A. Griffin, David Lont () and Kurt Purdon

Abacus, 2021, vol. 57, issue 1, 101-125

Abstract: We propose a supplementary way to assess the information content of a financial statement disclosure based on the comovement of asset returns in different markets in response to information that has price implications for both. The influence of a signal that strongly influences at least two asset markets measures a dimension of information content less clearly reflected in single‐market responses. We apply our method to debt covenant violation (DCV) disclosures. These are the outcome of a debt renegotiation when the covenant promises in a debt agreement to manage the agency costs of debt are broken. We find that stock and bond return comovement is highest one day before DCV disclosure and differs depending on whether the debt covenant is waived or not waived. We find that stock and bond return comovement in the days following a DCV disclosure decreases more for non‐waiver disclosures than for waiver disclosures. This supports the theory that a non‐waiver outcome shifts control rights and bargaining power to the creditors. Consistent with this theory, single‐market tests show that bonds with a non‐waiver disclosure versus a waiver disclosure earn positive excess returns following a DCV disclosure whereas the reverse is true for stocks.

Date: 2021
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