We investigate the impact of mass layoff announcements on the equity value of industry rivals. When a layoff announcement conveys good (bad) news for the announcer, rivals on average witness a 0.44 percent increase (0.60 percent decrease) in cumulative abnormal stock returns. This effect is concentrated on rivals with high growth opportunities. Consistent with this finding, we also show that our results are strongest in technology industries, where growth opportunities matter the most. Our results suggest that investors perceive layoff announcements as news about industry prospects rather than just the announcer.
Using data on layoff announcements by S&P 500 firms, we show that layoff announcements mostly contain industrywide news. Competitors' stock price reactions are positively correlated with the announcer's returns. This contagion effect is stronger for competitors whose values depend on growth opportunities. When layoff announcements induce positive stock returns to announcers, competitors with positive R&D see a 1.15% increase in their returns. Conversely, when announcements induce negative reactions to announcers, competitors with high sales growth see a reduction of 1.09% in returns. Our findings suggest that investors perceive layoffs as a change in growth options rather than a change in the competitive environment.