The Diversification Discount: It's All Cash Flows
51 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2004
Date Written: September 1, 2004
We examine why some diversified firms trade at a discount and others at a premium. Specifically, we examine if the value premium (discount) of premium (discount) diversified firms can be explained by lower (higher) risk exposures and, hence, expected returns, relative to a portfolio of matching focused firms. Using a four-factor conditional asset-pricing model, we find that premium firms have higher expected returns while discount firms have lower expected returns than their corresponding portfolios of matching focused firms. This indicates that the value premium (discount) of premium (discount) diversified firms is due entirely to higher (lower) expected cash flows. In addition, we find that the average diversified firm has significantly lower mean risk exposures and expected returns than a portfolio of matching focused firms. This means that its value discount is due entirely to lower expected cash flows. This is in contrast to Lamont and Polk (2001) who attribute just over 50% of the variation in excess values to future cash flows. Our results also indicate that the value discount of the average diversified firm can be attributed entirely to the expected cash-flow dissipation of discount diversified firms.
Keywords: Diversification discount, diversified firms, premium firms, discount firms, expected returns, conditional asset pricing model
JEL Classification: G12, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation