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When are dividend increases bad for corporate bonds?

Xiaoting Wei, Cameron Truong and Viet Do

Accounting and Finance, 2020, vol. 60, issue 2, 1295-1326

Abstract: Employing an event study approach, we examine 5,574 bond return reactions to unexpected quarterly dividend change announcements in the U.S. corporate bond market over the period 2002–2014. On average, bond price reaction is in the same direction as dividend changes, which supports the hypothesis that dividend changes signal future firm performance. However, the price reaction varies significantly in the spectrum of bond's risk. Importantly, we document that some bondholders react negatively to unexpected dividend increases, indicating a wealth transfer effect. Such wealth transfer effect is most likely to occur in very high risk bond approaching maturity issued by firms with a low level of cash and incorporated outside Delaware.

Date: 2020
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