Securities class actions and operating performance

Matthew McCarten*, Ivan Diaz-Rainey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how the filing of a securities class action, and associated corrective actions taken by management, impact the operating performance of sued firms. 

Design/methodology/approach: A matched sample is formed three years prior to the filing of a class action, as opposed to the traditional one year used in the literature. Match adjusted performance is analyzed from three years prior to the filing to five years after. Further the authors analyze the impact corrective actions have on operating performance. 

Findings: The results show that operating underperformance happens considerably earlier than had hitherto been believed. Further, there is no evidence that the filing adversely affects performance, rather securities class actions appear to act as a turning point. The findings also indicate that firms that increase leverage post filing, experience subsequent increases in their operating performance. 

Originality/value: The results show that rather than leading to a deterioration in performance, as is currently understood, the filing of a securities class actions results in improved operating performance. This improvement is, in part, associated with more optimal use of leverage by management. Overall, class actions appear to be an effective disciplinary mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-58
Number of pages15
JournalManagerial Finance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2017


  • agency problems
  • corporate governance
  • operating performance
  • securities class actions


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