Chava, Sudheer. “Environmental Externalities and Cost of Capital.” Working paper (Georgia Institute of Technology), 2011.
I analyze the impact of a firm’s environmental profile on its cost of equity and debt capital. Using implied cost of capital derived from analysts’ earnings estimates, I find that investors demand significantly higher expected returns on stocks excluded by environmental screens (such as hazardous chemical, substantial emissions and climate change concerns) compared to firms with- out such environmental concerns. Lenders also charge a significantly higher interest rate on the bank loans issued to firms with these environmental concerns. I provide evidence that environmental profile of a firm is not simply proxying for an omitted component of its default risk. Further, firms with these environmental concerns have lower institutional ownership and fewer banks participate in their loan syndicate than firms without such environ- mental concerns. These results suggest that exclusionary socially responsible investing and environmentally sensitive lending and the consequent increase in the cost of equity and debt capital has the potential to prompt firms to internalize their environmental externalities.
LK comment: Strong paper. Moskowitz Prize Honorable Mention in 2011.