Opinion: How you can use earnings release dates to predict stock movements — Eric So

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Eric So

From MarketWatch

If you have good news, you want to rush to tell people about it. If you have bad news, you tend to stall, hoping it will go away or that some good news will come along to dilute it. Companies, it turns out, behave similarly — and therein lies an extraordinary opportunity that most investors have been missing.

I recently studied whether the announcements companies make when they reschedule earnings reports contain important information about the firms. This earnings season, for instance, investors may notice that Apple Inc.AAPL, -0.53%   moved forward its expected earnings announcement date to Oct. 20 from Oct. 28. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Co. KO, -0.64%   has delayed its expected reporting date to Oct. 21 from Oct. 14.

What can investors predict from such behavior? Often, quite a lot.

When companies shift a scheduled reporting date, the announcement typically appears routine. Some financial reporting dates are set by regulation, but firms have discretion in scheduling earnings reports.

In this study, I analyzed the corporate reporting calendars of some 19,000 companies from 2006 through 2013. Wall Street Horizon, Inc., a firm that collects events information of publicly traded companies, provided the data.

I discovered that firms which moved up their reporting dates were considerably more likely to report higher earnings, while those that delayed their reporting dates tended to announce earnings declines. The stock values of the companies tracked closely with the earnings trends.

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Behind the hype over Aetna’s minimum wage boost — Barbara Dyer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and Visiting Scientist Barbara Dyer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and Visiting Scientist Barbara Dyer

From Fortune

Last week, Aetna, Inc., one of the largest healthcare insurers in America, made news when it announced it would boost its minimum wage base to $16 an hour for its lowest-earning employees. Aetna  AET 0.35%  also pledged to cover more of its employee’s health costs. In a Wall Street Journal interview, CEO Mark Bertolini said the company hopes to reduce its $120 million annual turnover costs and will monitor how this investment plays out.

While a firm’s decision to increase pay for lower-wage workers should certainly be applauded, it also begs the question: Why is the decision to pay workers $16 per hour breaking news?

My answer: because of the message it sends to investors and shareholders.

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Diversity and markets — Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

We usually think of ethnic diversity as a matter of social policy, not a factor that could impede market bubbles. But new research by me and a team of colleagues suggests a surprising new reason to consider diversity as a hedge against speculative bubbles: in two studies, we find that markets comprised of ethnically diverse traders are more accurate in pricing assets than ethnically homogeneous ones. Our paper, which came out Nov. 17 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), finds that ethnic diversity leads all traders, whether of majority or minority ethnicity, to price more accurately and thwart bubbles. The reason isn’t because minority traders had special information or differential skills; rather, their mere presence changed how everyone approached decision-making.  Traders were more apt to carefully scrutinize others’ transactions and less likely to copy others’ errors in diverse markets, and this reduced the incidence of bubbles.

To conduct our research, we constructed experimental markets in the United States and Singapore in which participants traded stocks to earn real money. We randomly assigned participants to ethnically homogenous or diverse markets. We found that markets comprised of diverse traders did a 58 percent better job at pricing assets to their true value. Overpricing was higher in homogenous markets because traders are more likely to accept speculative prices, we found. Their pricing errors were more correlated than in diverse markets. And when bubbles burst, homogenous markets crashed more severely.

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The roadblock to commercialisation — Thomas Allen and Rory O’Shea

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Allen

MIT Sloan Visiting Asst. Professor Rory O'Shea

MIT Sloan Visiting Asst. Professor Rory O’Shea

From Financial Times

Knowledge and innovation generated at universities can lead to the creation of high-impact spin-off businesses. Whether it is through the licensing of intellectual property, partnerships or other informal arrangements, the tech transfer process can play a critical role in shaping new industries and regional economic development.

Research by Eesley and Miller and Eesley and Roberts has demonstrated the role Stanford University has played in shaping the development of Silicon Valley and MIT’s contribution to building a world-class innovation hub in the Kendall Square district of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

While those are examples of successful academic-industry-government ecosystems, the technology transfer system at many universities in the US and Europe is in need of a major overhaul. Its focus is historically rooted in revenue generation rather than in helping innovation. Technology transfer offices in many universities can act as bottlenecks rather than partners in knowledge transfer for economic and societal good.

Read the full post at The Financial Times.

Thomas J. Allen is the Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management, Emeritus and Professor of Organizations Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Dr Rory O’Shea is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He also serves as a faculty member at the Smurfit Graduate School of Business, UCD.

Easy flights to capital — Xavier Giroud

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Xavier Giroud

From Xconomy 

Rather than dipping too deeply into the tax break tool box to attract new business, state and local governments might do just as well to make their local skies more friendly. Some research I’ve recently completed suggests that the easier it is for venture capitalists to travel by air, the better the companies in which they invest do.

When my colleagues (Shai Bernstein at Stanford University and Richard Townsend at Dartmouth College) and I analyzed what happened when new airline routes were introduced that reduced the travel time between venture capitalists and companies in which they had invested, we found a robust result: the travel time reduction leads to an increase in innovation as well as a greater likelihood of an IPO. Moreover, the greater the reduction in travel time, the stronger the positive effect on portfolio companies.

Our results indicate that VC involvement is an important determinant of innovation and success. Far from just sitting back to see if their investments pay off, venture capitalists tend to be active investors. They want to be up close and personal with their companies. Better flight connections that enable them to do so lead to greater company success, we found.

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