Article | Journal of Finance | December 2009

Catering Through Nominal Share Prices

by Malcolm Baker, Robin Greenwood and Jeffrey Wurgler


We propose and test a catering theory of nominal stock prices. The theory predicts that when investors place higher valuation on low-price firms, managers will maintain share prices at lower levels, and vice-versa. Using measures of time-varying catering incentives based on valuation ratios, split announcement effects, and future returns, we find empirical support for the predictions in both time-series and firm-level data. Given the strong cross-sectional relationship between capitalization and nominal share price, an interpretation of the results is that managers may be trying to categorize their firms as small firms when investors favor small firms.

Keywords: Stocks; Stock Shares; Investment; Investment Return; Price; Theory; Valuation;


Baker, Malcolm, Robin Greenwood, and Jeffrey Wurgler. "Catering Through Nominal Share Prices." Journal of Finance 64, no. 6 (December 2009): 2559–2590. (Internet Appendix.)