The effect of R&D on future returns and earnings forecasts

Research paper by Dain C. Donelson, Robert J. Resutek

Indexed on: 05 Jan '12Published on: 05 Jan '12Published in: Review of Accounting Studies


Prior studies attribute the future excess returns of research and development activity (R&D) firms to either compensation for increased risk or to mispricing. We suggest a third explanation and show that neither the level of R&D investment nor the change in R&D investment explains future returns. Rather, the positive future returns that prior studies attribute to R&D investment are actually due to the component of the R&D firm’s realized return that is unrelated to R&D investment but present in R&D firms. Our results suggest that the excess returns of R&D firms are part of the larger value/growth anomaly. In addition, we show that while future earnings are positively associated with current R&D, errors in earnings expectations by investors and analysts are not related to R&D investment.