CFA Level 1

AAA

Corporate Finance - Signaling Prospects Through Financing Decisions

One of the key assumptions Modigliani and Miller make in their work is that market information is symmetric, meaning companies and investors have the same information with respect to the company's future projects/investments. This assumption, however, is not realistic. When making capital decisions, a company's management should have more information than an investor, which implies asymmetric information.

A financing decision is a way in which a company can inadvertently signal its prospects to investors. For example, suppose Newco decides to finance a new project with equity. Newco's additional equity would in fact dilute stockholder value. Since companies typically try to maximize stockholder value, would an equity offering be a bad signal? The answer is yes.

There would be some benefit from the project to the stockholders; however, the dilution from the offering would offset some of that benefit. If a company's prospects are good, management will finance new projects with other means, such as debt, to avoid giving any negative signals to the market.

Look Out!
Financing a capital project with equity may be a signal to investors that a company's prospects are not good.
Degree of Total Leverage
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