Marc Gabarro, Sebastian Gryglewicz, Shuo Xia
SSRN Working Papers,
We examine the relationship between protracted CEO successions and stock returns. In protracted successions, an incumbent CEO announces his or her resignation without a known successor, so the incumbent CEO becomes a “lame duck.” We find that 31% of CEO successions from 2005 to 2014 in the S&P 1500 are protracted, during which the incumbent CEO is a lame duck for an average period of about 6 months. During the reign of lame duck CEOs, firms generate an annual four-factor alpha of 11% and exhibit significant positive earnings surprises. Investors’ under-reaction to no news on new CEO information and underestimation of the positive effects of the tournament among the CEO candidates drive our results.