Payout policy trade-offs and the rise of 10b5-1 preset repurchase plans

Alice Bonaimé, Jarrad Harford, David Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We are the first to document and study the use of Rule 10b5-1 preset repurchase plans. Though the rule's original intent was to clarify conditions for enforcing insider trading laws, generally thought to apply to individuals classified as firm insiders, we find strong use of the rule at the firm level to repurchase company stock. We exploit this new and widespread form of payout to examine an issue at the core of payout decisions-the tradeoff between commitment and financial flexibility. Relative to open market repurchases, preset plans provide an expanded repurchase window and increased legal cover, albeit at the cost of reducing repurchase flexibility and the option to time repurchases. These costs and benefits are significantly associated with Rule 10b5-1 adoption: Firms with alternative sources of financial flexibility are more likely to precommit to a repurchase plan, as are firms with a history of poor repurchase timing and firms constrained by blackout windows. Consistent with preset plans signaling commitment, Rule 10b5-1 repurchase announcements are associated with greater and faster completion rates, with more positive market reactions, and with more dividend substitution than open market repurchases. Lastly, we find that preset repurchase plans represent a unique payout tool whose introduction encouraged a different set of firms to buy back stock and significantly altered the payout landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2762-2786
Number of pages25
JournalManagement Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Accelerated share repurchase
  • Announcement returns
  • Blackout windows
  • Dividend substitution
  • Financial crisis
  • Financial flexibility
  • Payout policy
  • Preset trading plan
  • Repurchase plan completion rates
  • Rule 10b5-1
  • Share buyback
  • Share repurchase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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