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Performance share plans: Valuation and empirical tests

Craig W. Holden and Daniel S. Kim

Journal of Corporate Finance, 2017, vol. 44, issue C, 99-125

Abstract: Performance share plans are an increasingly important component of executive compensation. They are equity-based, long-term incentive plans where the number of shares to be awarded is a quasi-linear function of a performance result over a fixed time period. We derive closed-form formulas for the value of a performance share plan when the performance measure is: (1) a non-traded measure following an Arithmetic Brownian Motion (e.g., earnings per share), (2) a non-traded measure following a Geometric Brownian Motion (e.g., revenue), or (3) a rank-order tournament of traded asset returns that are following Arithmetic Brownian Motions (e.g., percentile of ranked stock returns). Then we empirically test our valuation formulas. We find that our valuation formulas are more accurate for performance share plans based on earnings per share when forecasting using analyst consensus prior to the grant date. We also find that the efficiency of our valuation model greatly depends on the method used to forecast future firm performance. The policy implication is that FASB should consider requiring that grant date fair value be estimated using valuation formulas such as ours.

Date: 2017
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