The impact of internet stock message boards on cross-sectional returns of small-capitalization stocks

Henry Leung*, Thai Ton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the impact of more than 2.5 million HotCopper messages on the Australian stock market. HotCopper is the largest online stock message board in Australia and the sample of messages covers over 2000 companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) from January 2003 through December 2008. We exclude messages surrounding public price-sensitive announcements released centrally by the ASX in order to examine the private information content of internet board messages. We find that the number of board messages and message sentiment significantly and positively relate to the contemporaneous returns of underperforming (low ROE, EBIT margin, EPS) small capitalization stocks with high market growth potential (low book-to-market). Posting activity is positively associated with trading volume for small stocks and negatively associated with bid-ask spreads for small and large stocks in the short term. Bullish small stocks outperform bearish ones significantly in respective days and months, exhibiting no return reversals to pre-message board activity levels in subsequent time periods. Large stocks are not found to be affected by message board activity. We conclude that higher message board activity quickly reflects itself into the prices of small capitalization stocks in a highly regulated market like the ASX.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Banking and Finance
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet message boards
  • Small capitalization stocks
  • Stock returns


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