Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis

Research Article

Capital Investments and Stock Returns

Sheridan Titmana1, K. C. John Weia2 and Feixue Xiea3

a1, Department of Finance, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712

a2, Department of Finance, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clearwater Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong

a3, Department of Economics and Finance, College of Business Administration, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968


Firms that substantially increase capital investments subsequently achieve negative benchmark-adjusted returns. The negative abnormal capital investment/return relation is shown to be stronger for firms that have greater investment discretion, i.e., firms with higher cash flows and lower debt ratios, and is shown to be significant only in time periods when hostile takeovers were less prevalent. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that investors tend to underreact to the empire building implications of increased investment expenditures. Although firms that increase capital investments tend to have high past returns and often issue equity, the negative abnormal capital investment/return relation is independent of the previously documented long-term return reversal and secondary equity issue anomalies.