What is back dating stock
For several years, Micrel allowed its employees to choose the lowest price for the stock within 30 days of receiving the options.After these stock option terms came to the attention of the IRS in 2002, it worked out a secret deal with Micrel that would allow Micrel to escape million in taxes and required the IRS to keep quiet about the option terms.However, under the new FAS 123R, the expense is based on the fair market value on the grant date, such that even at-the-money options have to be expensed.) Because backdating is typically not reflected properly in earnings, some companies that have recently admitted to backdating of options have restated earnings for past years. The exercise price affects the basis that is used for estimating both the company's compensation expense for tax purposes and any capital gain for the option recipient.Thus, an artificially low exercise price might alter the tax payments for both the company and the option recipient.This pioneering study was published in the Journal of Finance in 1997, and is definitely worth reading.In a study that I started in 2003 and disseminated in the first half of 2004 and that was published in Management Science in May 2005 (available at I found that stock prices also tend to decrease before the grants.In particular, he found that stock prices tend to increase shortly after the grants.He attributed most of this pattern to grant timing, whereby executives would be granted options before predicted price increases.
Backdating does not violate shareholder-approved option plans.There is also some relatively early anecdotal evidence of backdating.A particularly interesting example is that of Micrel Inc.ESOs are usually granted at-the-money, i.e., the exercise price of the options is set to equal the market price of the underlying stock on the grant date.Because the option value is higher if the exercise price is lower, executives prefer to be granted options when the stock price is at its lowest.