Leverage and Returns in Three Countries of Southern European Region
This paper aims to investigate the impact of leverage on stock returns in three southern European countries, members of the Euro zone, Greece, Italy and Portugal from 2000 to 2010. The portfolio level analysis is performed both on a full sample basis and on an industry basis. The main contribution of our work is that we enhance the capital structure studies by broadening the limited work that has been accomplished on the base of leverage as an explanatory variable of returns. At the industry level analysis, a significant positive leverage effect is isolated only at Consumer Goods and Health Care industries in Italy and at Industrial sector in Portugal. In Greece, the industry effect of leverage is almost negligible.