Bullet Dodging – Definition

Cite this article as:"Bullet Dodging – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated June 8, 2019, last accessed August 8, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/bullet-dodging-definition/.


Bullet Dodging Definition

Ordinarily, bullet dodging has to do with actions done to avoid an unpalatable situation or avoid a gory circumstance. When used in a financial sense, bullet dodging is a tricky approach of granting employee stock option in which the release of the option is delayed until the prices of stocks owned by the company drop.

Bullet dodging as carried out by many companies is a questionable act. In this situation, companies intentionally delay the granting of the options until an undesirable situation in the company is made public. Hence, because the exercise price of stock owned by the employee is related to the underlying price of the stock, the holder is then left to a low exercise price due to decline in stock price.

A Little More on What is Bullet Dodging

If a company grants an employee stock option despite being aware of a potential drop in stock price or bad news involving the company is an instance of a bullet dodging. However, there are some cases where a company grants options if good news is about to be made public, this is considered insider trading, because only a selected few can access this.

In cases of bullet dodging, employees enjoy lower exercise price contrary to the potential benefit that options holder should benefit from. The employees involved are often members of the management of a company, such as the CEO or administrative manager.

Although bullet dodging is often regarded as a dishonest or shady act, it is legal. Its legality is due to the fact that board members who grant the options are often pre-informed about liely occurrences in stock prices or the company at large. Also, a legal requirement under the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act is that companies should report granting of options to SEC within two business days.

For instance, bullet dodging is a situation where Company A which initially planned to grant stock options for its Executive manager at an earlier date, let’s say June7, end up delaying the granting of the option till june 15 if its earning projections will encounter decline by June 14.

References for Bullet Dodging

Academic Research on Bullet Dodging

Options backdating, tax shelters, and corporate culture, Fleischer, V. (2006). Va. Tax Rev., 26, 1031.

Stock market reactions to regulatory investigations: Evidence from options backdating, Jain, S., Jain, P., & Rezaee, Z. (2010). Research in Accounting Regulation, 22(1), 52-57.

Legal and accounting issues of manipulating the timing of stock option grants, Oppenheimer, P. H. (2011). Journal of Financial Crime, 18(1), 63-75.

Timing of CEO stock option grants and corporate disclosures: new evidence from the post-SOX and post-backdating-scandal era, Huang, W., & Lu, H. (2010).

Stock Option Backdating: Is the Government’s Response Enough to Eliminate the Problem or is It Still a Work in Progress, Muller, L. E. (2011). Santa Clara L. Rev., 51, 331.

Backdated stock options ownership impact on the corporation, management, & shareholders, Cascini, K., & DelFavero, A. (2010). Journal of Business and Economics Research, 8(1), 33-47.

STOCK OPTIONS BACKDATING SCANDALS: What do market participants think about the investigations?, Udemgba, B., & Igwebuike, J. (2009). Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 1, 1.

Stock option pitfalls and strategies Du Jour, Sweeney, P. (2001). Journal of Accountancy, 192(4), 49.

Options Timing: Lucky Strikes or 20/20 Hindsight?, Mary-Jo Kranacher, M. B. A. (2007). The CPA Journal, 77(10), 80.

A critique of the Anglo-American model of corporate governance, Clarke, T. (2009).

Expectation Management around Scheduled CEO Equity Grants, Financial Liberalization, International Monetary Dis/order, and the Neoliberal State, Canova, T. A. (1999). Am. U. Int’l L. Rev., 15, 1279.


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