Innogen  ·  Publications  ·  Working papers
R&D, patents and stock return volatility

Mazzucato, M   Tancioni, M.

April 2011

Recent finance literature highlights the role of technological change in increasing firm specific (idiosyncratic) and aggregate stock return volatility, yet innovation data is not used in these analyses, leaving the direct relationship between innovation and stock return volatility untested. The paper investigates the relationship between volatility and innovation using firm level patent data. The analysis builds on the empirical work by Mazzucato (2002; 2003) where it is found that stock return volatility is highest during periods in the industry life-cycle when innovation is the most ‘radical’. In this paper we ask whether firms which invest more in innovation (more R&D and more patents) and/or which have more important innovations (patents with more citations) experience more volatility in their returns. Given that returns should in theory be higher, on average, for higher risk stocks, we also look at the effect of innovation on the level of returns. To take into account the competition between firms within industries, firm returns and volatility are measured relative to the industry average. We focus the analysis on firms in the pharmaceutical industry between 1974 and 1999. Results suggest that there is a positive and significant relationship between volatility, R&D intensity and the various patent related measures—especially when the innovation measures are filtered to distinguish the very innovative firms from the less innovate ones.