Leading or Lagging indicators of risk? The informational content of extra-financial performance scores

This study investigates the informational content of extra-financial agency scoring by examining the relationship between firm beta and extra-financial performance score upgrades and downgrades. Specifically, we study the variations in the extra-financial score of 266 Canadian corporations between 2007 and 2012 with a conditional model.  We find no evidence that changes in firm beta precedes changes in extra-financial scores. Rather, our results suggest that a firm’s systematic risk increases following a downgrade of its extra-financial performance. In terms of score upgrades, the overall effect is not significant. However, score upgrades for firms with already-high scores predict higher systematic risk, while score upgrades for firms with low scores predict lower systematic risk. These results suggest that extra-financial scores are informational and can be useful to portfolio managers, notably for their risk management strategies.