The Black's leverage effect hypothesis postulates that a negative stock return innovation increases the financial leverage of a firm since the value of equity decreases at a given level of debt, which, in turn, creates a higher equity return volatility in the future. The paper is aimed at investigating the authenticity of the Black's leverage effect hypothesis and the relationship between negative stock returns and the financial leverage of the UK oil and gas stocks from 2004 to 2015. For each stock, exponential generalised autoregressive conditional heteroscedasticity model was estimated using Fama-French-Carhart 4-factor asset pricing model to extract the difference between the effects of negative and positive stock return innovations, regarded as leverage effect. The leverage effect parameter was further regressed on the financial leverage ratios of the book value of long-term debt to total assets, interest expenses to total assets and long-term debt to market value of equity to examine whether variation in the leverage parameter was as a result of variation in the firm's financial leverage. The findings of the study show that Fama-French-Carhart four risk factors of market, size effect, value and momentum were significant in the stock returns of most of the oil and gas companies. The mixed results in the significance level of the factors were attributed to the differences in individual firm characteristics. An evidence of leverage effect was also found in all the oil and gas stock returns but no evidence to suggest it was derived from the changes in the financial leverage of the companies. The implication of these findings for financial managers in the oil and gas industry was that while asset pricing frameworks such as CAPM and its extensions are relevant in determining oil stock returns, the level of gearing is irrelevant, albeit it has been recognised as one of the determinants of the firm's level of risk.
Black's leverage effect EGARCH size effect book-to-market value debt-to-total assets interest expenses-to-total assets long-term debt-to-market value of equity Fama-French-Carhart