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To convey information through a firm's actions. The more costly it is to provide a signal, the more credibility it has. For example, to call a press conference and tell everyone that the firm's prospects have improved is less effective than saying the same thing and raising the dividend.
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An indication of a company's health and/or actions. Signaling a certain state or action may cause a company's stock to rise or fall in price. Generally speaking, the more money a signal costs a company to make, the stronger the signal is thought to be. For example, a company may make a statement indicating financial distress, but reducing its dividends is thought to be a stronger signal.
Farlex Financial Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All Rights Reserved
To provide information to. For example, an unexpected dividend increase may signal investors that a firm's directors are more optimistic about future profits than previously thought. Likewise, the announcement of a new equity issue may signal investors that directors consider a firm's stock to be fully valued.
Wall Street Words: An A to Z Guide to Investment Terms for Today's Investor by David L. Scott. Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. All rights reserved.