Visibility, Institutional Preferences, and Agency Considerations

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We show that market frictions and agency considerations are important concerns when institutional investors make portfolio allocation decisions. For a sample of widely followed firms, institutional holdings increase with increases in visibility as measured by the number of analysts following the firm. We also report a significant seasonal pattern in institutional holdings consistent with the gamesmanship hypothesis, which asserts that institutions rebalance their portfolios in response to agency considerations. Finally, we find that excess returns are highly seasonal with performance, deteriorating when the following by financial analysts increases. "Followed" firms actually exhibit inferior market performance over the 1981-1996 sample period.