The monthly volatility of IPO initial returns is substantial, fluctuates dramatically over time, and is considerably larger during “hot” IPO markets. Consistent with IPO theory, the volatility of initial returns is higher for firms that are more difficult to value because of higher information asymmetry. Our findings highlight underwriters’ difficulty in valuing companies characterized by high uncertainty, and raise serious questions about the efficacy of the traditional firm-commitment IPO process. One implication of our results is that alternate mechanisms, such as auctions, could be beneficial for firms that value price discovery over the auxiliary services provided by underwriters.
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