Effects of Corporate Scandals in the Stock Market
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Published: Fri, 16 Mar 2018
Equity markets today are important participants in economic activity. They are an important source of funds to corporations that utilize them for trade and capital expansion hence, contributing positively to a nation’s GDP. Investors are the key players of equity markets. They are the risk-takers who invest in stocks of listed corporations, unsure of the realized gains to be obtained in the future on these stocks. However, an estimated assessment of the degree of risk borne is always done before purchase. These shareholders give huge sums of their earnings to these corporations in anticipation of their utilization in profitable ventures, ultimately giving returns higher than the invested monies.
However, recently a wave of corporate fraud has hit the market reviving attention on its effect on shareholders’ value, corporate governance, and stock market reaction (Bonini & Boraschi, 2009, p. 3). These worldwide occurring events have uprooted investors’ confidence in the overall financial market.
Corporate corruption is one of the world’s greatest challenges due to its occurrence in every part of the world and its detrimental effects on the overall development of countries. (Virginia, Eleni, Dimitrios, & Chrysoula, p. 2)
Corporate corruption hampers economic, social and most importantly financial growth of an nation by deterring investment, raising the cost of transaction and creating an uncertainty in the environment (Virginia, Eleni, Dimitrios, & Chrysoula, p. 2).
According to World Bank Report (2007), corruption is a 1 trillion-dollar industry internationally, thus making combating of corruption one of the most important issues in today’s world (Kaufmann, Kraay, & Mastruzzi, 2007, p. 3). Among the different forms of corruption, corporate corruption is one of the major factors affecting investor trust and investor confidence (Bonini & Boraschi, 2009, p. 3).
Corporate scandals can be defined as widely publicized incidents involving allegations of financial and investment tampering, managerial wrongdoing, disgrace, or moral outrage of one or more members of a company. Typical schemes of fraudulent behavior include financial misstatements on investments or operations, inadequate or inequitable information disclosure or delay, withholding information, bribery, insider trading, and any other illegal activities that hurt shareholders’ interest and overall reputation of the firm (Dyck, Morse and Zingales, 2007, p. 22). Such revelations over the last decade by several prominent companies such as Enron, Worldcom, Tyco have been watershed events. A number of other companies admitted to having accounting problems following these events (Agarwal and Cooper, 2009, p. 3-4). Similar fraudulent reporting in Pakistan by multi-million giants like OGDCL, NBP and PTCL severely undermined economic and financial progress. Most experienced, large stock price declined upon announcing such financial misstatements (Palmrose, Richardson, Scholz, 2004, p. 59-89; Agrawal, Chadha, 2005, p. 371-406; Agarwal, Cooper, 2009, p. 3-4). In a number of cases, companies acknowledging misstatements were forced into bankruptcy.
Source: Transparency International – Global Corruption Barometer 2004 -2010
Karachi Stock Exchange
Pakistani stocks present one of the world’s most attractive investment opportunities. This strength trailed along in the global emerging equity market from 2001-2005 when Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) posted some of the highest returns during the time (Impact of Foreign Reserves on Karachi stock exchange Market of Pakistan, 2010).
The Karachi Stock Exchange or KSE is Pakistan’s oldest and largest stock exchange. It was established in 1949, two years after the birth of the country (Karachi Stock Exchange, 2009). Despite political, social, financial, and other uncertainty, KSE played a key role in the economic and financial progress of Pakistan. KSE 100-index, which is the leading market index and representative of all the major market-influencing companies and so the overall market, showed a return of 40.19 percent in 2007 and became the sixth best performer among the emerging markets that year (Impact of Foreign Reserves on Karachi stock exchange Market of Pakistan, 2010). Moreover, the increase of 7.4 percent made it the best performer among major emerging markets in 2008 (Gulf News, 2008).
The exchange is one of the largest tax payers of Pakistan and its listed companies contribute 10% to the total revenue of the Government of Pakistan. (Karachi Stock Exchange, 2009)
Today, it is the country’s premier stock exchange which offers a range of high quality products and service which enabled it to become the focal point of capital formation (Annual Report, 2009).
Scandals and Stock Market
Corporate scandals is a mean of information disclosure that gives investors, who are the main stakeholders and risk takers, a view on the efficiency, honesty and effectiveness of the company’s policies and the credibility of its managers. In case if the firm has an established reputation, investors’ trust may be severely betrayed, resulting in a very sharp decline in stock price. The investors will be strongly aversive to buying that firm’s stock, supply will exceed demand and stock price, as a result, will suffer a loss (Lang, Stulz, 1992, p. 45-60; Rao, Hamilton,1996, p. 1321-1330; Agrawal, Chadha, 2005, p. 371-406, Agarwal, Cooper, 2009, p. 3-4). This movement in stock price is said to have a contagion effect, shifting the spillovers of shocks occurring in one entity to other entities and affecting stock performance of the entire industry if the alleged corporation has a strong brand image and well-established reputation . In most cases, at a global level, the effect spills-over to other countries, drastically affecting stock prices.
The information of major events takes no time to impact the stock prices. The importance of particular events and their effect on the stock market has been a subject of study in financial economics literature since long. Such studies attempt to assess the extent to which stock markets’ performance stray’s from the normal around the time of the occurrence of the events The most successful application of event studies has been in the area of corporate finance. (Hassan, 2004, p. 3)
Examples of corporate corruption incidents may include announcement of merger and acquisition fraud, delayed or disputed earning announcement, issue of new debt or equity and announcements of macroeconomic variables such as trade deficit, occurring national as well as internationally (Barklay, Litzenberger, 1988, p. 71-109; Jensen, Ruback, 1983, p. 1-10; McQueen, Roley, 1993, p. 683-707; Myers and Mujluf, 1984, p. 187-221).
The impact of these scandals on equity markets is drastic. Moreover, with globalization and liberalization of financial markets, this effect is experienced around the globe. Securities markets, as a result, particularly those in emerging countries, are susceptible to the effects of cross border activities, especially to higher short-term volatilities either after economic shocks or during periods of great uncertainty. (Hassan, 2004, p. 3)
The volatility caused by an unexpected event has been largely observed in almost all of the stock exchanges in the world. That is, the volatility caused by an event has a much longer life than the event itself. This behavior has been consistently observed in a large number of studies including a few for Pakistan. (Chou, 1988, p. 701-716; Javid and Ahmed, 1999, p. 778-786) It is therefore not surprising that the impact of events on stock market in Pakistan has taken an important position in economic research. (Javid, 2007, p. 2-5)
Keeping in perspective previous researches and actual incidents, we observed that no previous study has been conducted to analyze the effect of this phenomenon on the prices of stocks listed on Karachi Stock Exchange. Since the stock exchange is so crucial to economic and financial progress of the country, analysis of the effect of corporate scandals on the KSE-100 would provide us with a realistic measure of market performance.
Therefore, we as a group aim to validate this theory by assessing the effect of national and international corporate scandals on the price of Karachi Stock Exchange’s representative index, the KSE-100 Index.
Karachi Stock Market Correlation with World Financial Markets.
Source: World Bank Development Finance Indicators 2009: Market Capitalization of Listed Companies
The study of related literature shows that corporate scandals have had diverse and far reaching effects. These implications have been not only for the companies involved but also for peers in the industry and the overall economy. We shall attempt to cover several studies that show the relationship between news and the stock market dynamics, the impact of corporate scandals on the stock exchanges and the contagion effects of the reporting of such scandals.
The writings on the subject of news and stock market point to a strong connection between the two. Stock markets respond to what is reported in the various media. The reaction rises in volatile markets like the KSE which is especially quite efficient.
Moving on to specifically news regarding corporate scandals, several researchers have tried to estimate the significance and magnitude of their effects. From the studies conducted, it has been found that in case of Chapter 11 filing announcements, financial reports re-stating or financial distress announcements, companies suffer a considerable decline in both stock prices and debt ratings. (Palmrose, Richardson, Scholz, 2004, p. 139-180; Lang and Stulz, 1992, p. 45-60; Agarwal, Cooper, 2009, p. 3-4)
This happens because corporate scandals act as information revelation mechanisms to equity market participants and shed light on the real managerial and accounting practices of the firm. Investors get to learn what is really going on in the firm. In case of huge scandals, the reaction of investors to these revelations can be massive and the involved companies can experience sharp declines in their share prices. (Lang, Stulz, 1992, p. 45-60; Rao, Hamilton, 1996, p. 1321-1330; Agrawal and Chadha, 2005, p. 371-406; Agrawal, Cooper, 2009, p. 3-4)
According to Bonini and Boraschi (2009) this decline can thus be viewed as result of earlier stock overvaluation due to either an accounting phenomenon (such as a misrepresentation of earnings) or maybe because some information regarding the company’s investments or risk exposure was not fully available to the market due to which the stock traded on a higher level. Once the scandal was reported in news, the share price adjusted to a fair level to reflect the true state of the company (p. 7).
Rehman, Burckel and Mustafa (2009) have examined the likely effects of earnings restatements, of 10 selected companies, on their stock prices by employing the event study methodology using daily data and an event window period of ± 20 days around the earnings restatement announcement date. They found that restated earnings often resulted in a serious downward movement in a company’s stock price. Other consequences of financial restatements include a perception of incompetence or fraud, a downward revision of expected future cash flows, increased litigation risk, increased cost of capital, and downgraded credit ratings. According to them, there were 1,010 restating companies in US as of March 2005 since the fall of Enron. Those companies hoped that earnings restatements would allow them to come clean and provide investors with corrected information to make investing decisions. However, as per the authors restatement may create as many problems as it solves and undoing past financial accounting mistakes can be difficult and costly (p. 1 – 3).
They studied significant contagion effects on industry peers. Their results suggest that investors tend to process company-specific news as more industry-wide information. They also conclude that irrespective of their intensity, corporate scandals not only impact the firms involved but also generate effects at the industry level. (Bonini and Boraschi, 2009, p. 1-25)
This happens because listed companies raise capital in the market where they are exposed to investor sentiments and market momentum and, possibly, to information concerning contiguous companies that investors may transfer to the entire industry. Investor may infer that this behavior can be common practice across the industry and therefore increase the capital constraints on peer companies. A highly constrained financing environment will lead to increased cost of external financing and ultimately to a contraction of the total security offerings of the industry. (Bonini and Boraschi, 2009, p. 1-25) Thus corporate scandals result in contraction in security offerings and a decrease in stock returns for all the industry constituents.”
As mentioned earlier, the reporting of corporate scandals in news can have contagion effects too and impact peers in the industry or even spill over to the entire economy. In case of enormous scandals, the shock waves can be felt in distant parts of the world as well. This may be a consequence of the increasing integration of financial markets.
According to bank lending practices (2008), the recent financial crisis provided an example of this trend when sound companies faced problems in arranging capital in just the same way as companies that were actually on shaky grounds (Bonini & Boraschi, 2009, p. 9)
In a study done by Ferris, Jayaraman and Makhija (1997), it was seen that large firm bankruptcies generated a dominant contagion effect. Their data showed that competitors experienced a significant loss of 0.56% in the three-day window around Chapter 11 announcement. Small firm bankruptcies were also shown to generate a dominant contagion effect among smaller sized competitors. Gande and Lewis (2009) who conducted a research along similar lines concluded with corporate scandals having statistically significant market price effects (Bonini and Boraschi, 2009, p.9).
Agrawal & Cooper (2009) too had comparable conclusions stating that revelations of accounting problems usually result in large drops in stock prices, and often are followed by bankruptcy filings and lawsuits (p. 27)
Yu, Zhang and Zheng (2010), Karpoff and Lott (1993), and Agrawal and Chadha (2005) affirm that public attention on corporate scandals has increased after the occurrence of financial scandals of Enron, and WorldCom. They state in their paper that “Corporate scandals could spoil firms’ reputation, interrupt regular operations and influence the changes of key personnel, or even threaten the survival of related firms, such as Enron and WorldCom” (p. 3). They also note that relatively little is known about the externality of scandals. Not only the matching industries but also the whole market has felt their contagion effect (Gleckman, 2001). However, few academic studies examine externality of corporate scandals in a large sample with few exceptions, e.g. Malone and Hedge (2004) (Yu et al, p. 1-9).
Jin and Meyer (2006) show that in a country with weaker institution environment, negative shock of one firm could more easily spill over to other firms and translated into increased industry risk and market risk.
We would also consider in our review the relationship of KSE with the U.S. stock markets. The purpose is to see whether scandals that shook the NYSE or NASDAQ had an impact on KSE. The stronger the integration of these markets, the more the probability that the impact of scandals will geographically spread (Brooks & Lim, 2011, p. 33).
The study of Arshanapalli, Doukas, and Lang (1995) supports this argument. They investigate the presence of a common stochastic trend between the U.S. and the Asian stock market movements during the post-October 1987 period. The evidence suggests that the â€•co-integrating structure that ties these stock markets together has substantially increased since October 1987. The influence of the U.S. stock market innovations was also found to be greater during the post-October period. The results also indicate that the Asian equity markets are less integrated with Japan’s equity market than they are with the U.S. market. (Sharma & Bodla, 2010, p. 5)
All these developments led to an increased emphasis on corporate governance both in practice and academic research (e.g., Blue Ribbon Committee Report 1999, Ramsay Report 2001, Sarbanes-Oxley 2002, Bebchuk and Cohen 2009). This emphasis is due in part to the prevalence of highly publicized and egregious financial reporting frauds such as Enron, WorldCom, Aldelphia, and Parmalat; an unprecedented number of earnings restatements (Palmrose and Scholz, 2004); and claims of blatant earnings manipulation by corporate management (Krugman, 2002). (Butt & Shah, 2009, p. 4)
According to International Finance Corporation (2007), “corporate governance is becoming increasingly important to investors because well-governed companies have lower risk and fewer unexpected events. Well-governed companies are better at protecting shareholders’ rights and providing better assurance that management will act in the best interest of the company and of all its shareholders.” (p. 12)
A study of S&P 500 companies showed that companies with strong or improving corporate governance practices outperformed those with poor or deteriorating governance practices by about 19% over a two-year period (A survey of governance practices in Pakistan, 2007, p. 1-15).
The report also states that corporate governance practices affect market confidence in addition to company performance by helping to develop stronger capital markets, reducing risk and improving a market’s ability to mobilize, allocate and monitor investments, which ultimately fosters economic growth (A survey of governance practices in Pakistan, 2007, p. 1-15).
A number of corporate governance reforms, including legislative reforms, corporate governance guidance and principles, and stock exchange governance rules have been initiated globally. These have inspired countries such as Pakistan to adopt corporate governance codes, which are frequently based on such best practices yet tailored to fit local regulations and circumstances. The relevant regulations in Pakistan include the 1969 Securities and exchange Ordinance (SEO), the 1984 Companies Ordinance (CO), the 1997 Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Act and most importantly Code of Corporate Governance 2002 (A survey of governance practices in Pakistan, 2007, p. 1-15).
An important legislative reform that required higher level of information reporting and data integrity was the Sarbanes Oxley Act (2002). It was formulated in the aftermath of scandals like Enron and Worldcom to increased regulatory compliance with SEC disclosure law (Balakrishnan, Ghose, & Ipeirotis, p. 2). Besides, a number of other corporate governance reforms and stock exchange governance rules were also formulated globally like the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, and the Guidance for Enhancing Corporate Governance for Banking Organizations. All these reforms have inspired countries like Pakistan to adopt corporate governance codes. (A survey of governance practices in Pakistan, 2007, p. 1-15).
The World Bank ROSC Corporate Governance Country Assessment for Pakistan (2005) concludes that, despite initial resistance to the Code from issuers and market participants, compliance with it has been improving. Market leaders such as multinational companies, leading banks and notable family-controlled corporations are creating more transparent and modern governance structures. (A survey of governance practices in Pakistan, 2007, p. 1-15).
Market structures are now more adaptive as well as responsive to global activities, be it legislative reforms or corporate happenings. Today, markets only have virtual boundaries. They operate in a global environment where a French company’s security can be traded from Dhaka, Nepal or even Russia. A corporate event happening in one part of the globe has its impact felt on almost all financial markets due to global financial integration. It is now imperative for growing as well as developed markets to be flexible in order to be efficient. A governed or regulated market will lose investors’ trust on its autonomy and efficiency.
The term ‘market efficiency’ is generally referred to as the informational efficiency of financial markets which emphasizes the role of information in setting prices. More specifically, the efficient markets hypothesis (EMH) defines an efficient market as one in which new information is quickly and correctly reflected in its current security price (Lim & Brooks, 2011, p. 1-3)
The market is said to be efficient if it fully and correctly reflects all relevant information in determining security prices. In a free and competitive market, security prices generally reflect all publicly available information and these prices rapidly adjust to new information. In an efficient market, prices are assumed to reflect all available information at any given time, therefore, the most relevant estimate of the intrinsic value of any security will be its the current price. “This intrinsic value can change as a result of new information. If new information is “gradually” made known to market participants, successive price changes will exhibit dependence” (Al-Erain & Kumar, 1995, p. 329).
Any event happening, negative or positive, which is generally reflected in the news, is very quickly reflected in securities’ price. The news acts as information provider for investors on their shareholding companies.
It is widely believed that news events dominate the markets on any given day. Due to the technological advancements of the times, the details of global and local events are presented at the forefront of market activities. Good news and bad news, when exposed to the market, determine whether to buy of sell the stocks. (Goonatilake & Herath, 2007, p. 1)
Stock price fluctuation, which depends of the stock’s trading, is more responsive to negative news of fraud, bankruptcy or any other scandalous activity than a positive news of increased profits or hiring of a new and competitive management team. Any bad news immediately drops stock price several hundred points down. Recovery takes longer since the lost investor confidence is not easy to re-establish.
These market movements and responses, which is based on the market’s efficiency and integrity with the global financial markets is therefore, an important piece of study. Analysis will tell us whether modern governance standards have improved the quality of corporate operations, test the validity of efficient market hypothesis on Karachi Stock Exchange’s 100 Index which is representative of the overall local market, and finally, assess if Karachi Stock Exchange is globally integrated.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to assess the hypothetical correlation between international and national corporate scandals and its impact on stock prices of KSE-100 index. The purpose is to test the hypotheses and analyze the dependency of the variables – corporate scandals and stock prices. Since the study is correlational, researchers’ interference will be minimal, and the study setting will not interfere in the natural operations – it will be contrived.
Methodology and Research Design:
The research uses event methodology to study the effect of all scandals that have occurred during the past ten years, on the Karachi Stock Market‘s KSE-100 Index. Stock price of the KSE-100 index is taken as the dependent measure of performance. The scandalous events that act independently to affect stock market, includes bankruptcies, corporate fraud, unethical actions, misstatement of financial information, insider trading and charge of bribery, merger and acquisition fraud.
Events are categorized on the basis of national and international corporate scandal announcements. The companies are further sub-classified into financial and non-financial organizations. 21 events are identifies, 11 national and 11 international (see Table 1). Statistical independent t-test is applied for comparison of mean differences in order to evaluate the equality of population means and test the hypotheses. If the population means are unequal and related, the hypothesis testing the relationship between the variables will be proven, confirming that the independent variable has a significant impact on the dependent variable. Levene’s f-test is also used for assessing the equality of population variances.
Data collection is particularly secondary in nature. Price of the index is acquired from Karachi Stock Exchange’s historical index movement. News reporting headlines are taken from a variety of print media sources, i.e. Dawn News, The News, Business Recorder, Periodicals and announcements from Transparency Pakistan and online announcement on BBC International. Moreover, reference to corporate websites, news archives and timelines of events, annual reports, white papers, research reports, and KSE monthly market summary, and other such sources was made to gather and assimilate the data for analysis.
Variables on the left includes a broad category of independent variables that impact stock prices of Karachi Stock Exchange 100-Index. These variables include Chapter 11 bankruptcies, financial misstatements, bribes, unfair nepotism in trading, insider trading, money laundering, corporate theft, liquidity crises, and other events of similar nature occurring in the national as well as international environment.
These independent variables are announced via print and broadcast media, in the news, which ultimately impacts stock price of the relative company and possibly spills-over to other companies in the same industry. This phenomenon is represented by price change in KSE-100 Index which acts as the dependent variable.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of International and National corporate scandals, occurring over a period of ten years i.e., 2001-2010, on the price of KSE-100 Index. The study aims to:
Find the correlation between reported scandals and its contagion effect  on movement of KSE-100 Index.
Analyze the relative impact of international and national scandals on the price movement of KSE-100 Index.
Determine the effectiveness of efficient market hypothesis (EMH) in the KSE-100 Index in fairly expressing available information of fraud through price change.
Significance of Study
This study is important for domestic and foreign investors in terms of risk management and portfolio diversification strategies to include unrelated industries as a mean of hedging (Rizwan & Khan, 2007, p. 5). The study is also of interest to stakeholders of a company whose interests are not protected and who are primarily affected by such fraudulent behavior. It also opens to them the actual managerial practices of the firm. Investors, who are the major equity providers, have greater confidence in the company when responsible decision-making at the board level is communicated transparently and timely to all those concerned (Shah & Butt, 2009, p. 2-3).
The success of many businesses is directly related to the public’s confidence in those businesses. A loss of public confidence can be detrimental to the firm and to its investors. By showing a concern for the attitude of the public toward the firm, these securities firms are not only acting in a responsible manner ethically, but also in a responsible manner with regard to the firms’ profitability. (Tarobzadeh, Davidson, & Assar, 1989, p. 5)
It is also important for decision-making by national policy makers in order concentrate their efforts to promote corporate governance, minimize investor uncertainty, increase transparency, and fair play in order to attain stability in economic fundamentals through (Rizwan & Khan, 2007, p. 5). In other words, enhance the performance, ensure conformance of companies and stabilize capital markets (Manual of Corporate Governance, 2002).
The target sample for the research includes all corporations, international (particularly U.S.) and national, who have been charged of a scandalous activity. The study sample is collected over ten years’ timeline – from the 1st of January 2001 to the 31st of December 2010.
The research involves longitudinal study of the phenomenon of price change five days pre-event and five days post event.
The event window is divided into an 11 day trend of 5 pre-event and 5 post-event days, including one day of event occurrence. The reason behind being that a five day event compensates for the abrupt change in stock price. At times, news reporting may take time in depicting their effect on the stock market. Also, when news reporting happens over a weekend, it will only be reflected on the next operating day which has to in the 5-day trend. Hence, an 11-day trend is more accurate and reflective of the variation in index price. Days when the stock market is closed, like weekends or public holidays, are excluded.
Hypothesis # 1
H0: There is no relationship between news of corporate scandals and KSE-100 index.
H1: There exists a significant relationship between news of corporate scandals and KSE-100 index.
Hypothesis # 2
H0: International corporate scandal news has no impact on KSE-100 index.
H1: International corporate scandal news significantly impact KSE-100 index.
Hypothesis # 3
H0: National corporate scandal news has no impact on KSE-100 index.
H1: National corporate scandal news significantly impact KSE-100 index
Hypothesis # 4
H0: Scandals relating to financial institutions do not have an impact on KSE-100 index.
H1: Scandals relating to financial institutions significantly impact KSE-100 index.
Hypothesis # 5
H0: Scandals relating to non-financial institutions do not have an impact on KSE-100 index.
H1: Scandals relating to non-financial institutions significantly impact KSE-100 index.
Q1: What is the relative impact of international and national scandals on the price of KSE-100 Index?
Q2: What is the relative impact of scandals of financial and non-financial corporations on the price of KSE-100 Index?
Q3: How effective is the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) in the KSE-100 in expressing available information of fraud through stock price change over a period of ten years?
DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
The research design used independent sample t-test technique to analyze every hypothesis and assess any significant difference between the means of pre-event and post-event data of KSE-100 Index based on scandal announcements. Table 1 consists of the mean, standard deviation, t-value and p-value of the data. Analysis done will test a) the statistical significance of the data and b) equality of the variances using Levene’s test and the equality of population means through the comparison with alpha of 0.05. If the t-test value is less than 0.05, it will establish a significant relationship between the independent and dependent variable. All these steps will be observed in testing the hypotheses and the research questions.
Hypothesis #1: Relationship between corporate scandal news and KSE-100 Index stocks.
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