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Stock market valuation of old and new economy firms

Patrick Lünnemann ()

No 2, BCL working papers from Central Bank of Luxembourg

Abstract: Though stock prices are commonly not considered an integral part of central banks' monetary policy strategy, financial asset prices are highly relevant because they exert important impacts on inflation, on the real sphere of the economy, and on the financial system. This paper illustrates the evolution of selected primary and secondary equity markets and elaborates divergences and similarities between the pricing of old and new economy stocks. It is shown that the valuation of new economy stocks is subject to enhanced contingency. Prices of new economy stocks ceteris paribus react more sensitively to new information and modifications to external assumptions. From both a microeconomic as well as a macroeconomic point of view, the growth projections implicit in price earnings ratios observed in recent years seem unrealistic. Furthermore, from a utility maximising perspective, it seems unlikely that the observed shift in investment away from old economy stocks and into new economy stocks could have been achievable without a change in the aggregate risk preference. Panel regression analysis based on 219 EURO STOXX firms, though, confirms a significant impact of firm-specific and macroeconomic fundamentals on monthly returns for old economy companies as well as for telecommunication, media and technology (TMT) firms. The null-hypothesis of no statistically significant difference between TMT firms and non-TMT firms with respect to the role of firm-specific and macroeconomic fundamentals in explaining monthly stock returns is rejected. While theoretical considerations and empirical findings suggest that the monetary policy stance remains an important factor driving equity valuation, the growing passion for stocks and the more volatile pricing of new economy stocks bear important implications for central bank policy making.

Date: 2001-01
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