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Incentive stocks and options with trading restrictions: not as restricted as we thought

Research in Finance

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1377-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-549-9

Publication date: 4 March 2008


Stock ownership and incentive options are used by companies to retain and motivate employees and managers. These grants usually come with vesting features which require grantees to hold the assets for certain periods. This vesting requirement makes the grantee's total wealth highly undiversified. As a result, as shown by previous researchers, grantees tend to value these incentive securities below market. In this case, grantees will have a strong desire to hedge away the firm-specific risk. Facing the restrictions of direct hedges such as shorting the firm's stock, employees may implement a partial hedge by taking positions in an asset highly correlated with the firm's stock, such as an industry index. In this chapter, we investigate the effects of such a partial hedge. Using the continuous-time, consumption-portfolio framework as a backdrop, we demonstrate that the hedging index can enhance the employee's optimal portfolio holding and increase his intertemporal utility. Consequently, his private valuations of these grants are higher than that without the partial hedging. However, because the partial hedge makes the employee's total wealth less sensitive to the firm's stock price, it will also undermine the incentive effects. Therefore, the presumed incentive effects of these restricted assets should not be taken for granted.


Cao, M. and Wei, J. (2008), "Incentive stocks and options with trading restrictions: not as restricted as we thought", Chen, A.H. (Ed.) Research in Finance (Research in Finance, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 213-248.



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