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Using real options theory to explain patterns in the valuation of research and development expenditures

Denise A. Jones ()
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Denise A. Jones: Raymond A. Mason School of Business

Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, 2018, vol. 51, issue 3, 575-593

Abstract: Abstract Real options theory posits that the value of the firm is a combination of the value generated by the assets in place and the value of the option to invest in the future. It is based on the idea that many decisions are difficult to reverse, and valuing the outcome of these decisions is more complicated than estimating the present value of future cash flows. R&D activities often generate real options due to the nature of these activities, and examining the valuation of R&D expenditures through the lens of real options theory can help explain differing results documented in both the R&D and value relevance of earnings and book value literatures. Numerous studies have documented that the stock market positively values R&D expenditures; however, recent work has raised questions about whether this positive relation occurs across firms reporting both profits and losses. Consistent with real options theory, I find that the negative coefficient on the R&D expenditures of profitable firms documented by prior studies only exists for low growth firms. In addition, for all R&D firms experiencing high sales growth, the market places a lower value on assets in place and a higher value on R&D expenditures.

Keywords: Research and development expenditures; Real options theory; Value relevance of earnings and book value (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: M41 O32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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