We estimate the relation between stock option (ESO) grants to the top five executives and future earnings to examine whether incentive alignment or rent extraction by top managers explains option granting behavior. The future operating income associated with a dollar of Black-Scholes value of an ESO grant is $3.71. To understand the source of these positive payoffs, we parse out ESO grant values into components predicted by economic determinants of option grants, governance quality, and a residual grant value. The payoffs to ESOs appear to be driven predominantly by the economic determinants of option grants and not poor governance quality.
Hanlon, Michelle, Shivaram Rajgopal, and Terry Shevlin. "Are Executive Stock Options Associated with Future Earnings?." Journal of Accounting and Economics 36 (2003): 3-43.
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