Real options with unknown-date events

Óscar Gutiérrez, Francisco Ruiz-Aliseda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The real options literature has provided new insights on how to manage irreversible capital investments whose payoffs are uncertain. Two of the most important predictions from such theory are: (i) greater risk delays a firm's investment timing, and (ii) greater risk increases the option value of waiting. This paper challenges such conclusions in a setting in which the relevant random variable is the arrival time of an unfavorable event. In particular, we model situations in which a firm must choose the time at which to invest in a project whose profit grows at a known rate until a random date is reached and decays thereafter, which may be representative of stochastic product or industry life cycles. This is a novel framework in which a firm can update its beliefs about the profitability of an investment opportunity by simply waiting to invest. Thus, a wait-and-see approach allows the firm to capitalize on favorable market evolutions and avoid adverse ones to some extent. Our framework is simple and does not require using stochastic calculus, which allows for an economic interpretation of optimal investment policies for the cases of one-time and sequential investments. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-198
JournalAnnals of Finance
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


  • Bad news principle
  • Hazard rate
  • Investment under uncertainty
  • Option value
  • Simple and compound options


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