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Real and accrual‐based earnings management and its legal consequences Evidence from seasoned equity offerings

Real and accrual‐based earnings management and its legal consequences Evidence from seasoned... Purpose – Prior research suggests that firms manipulate earnings through accruals to achieve certain reporting objectives. Recently, especially following the Sarbanes‐Oxley (SarbOx) Act, researchers have turned their attention to real account manipulation as an alternative. However, there is no evidence on whether the likelihood of being detected by outsiders is different for firms using these alternative manipulation methods. The purpose of this paper is to examine this research question in the context of seasoned equity offerings (SEOs). Design/methodology/approach – First, the authors compare SEOs to a matched sample of non‐SEOs to document income‐increasing manipulation. Next, they identify SEOs that prompt lawsuits and compare sued and non‐sued firms to determine whether using a particular method of manipulation is more likely to be detected and associated with litigation. Findings – The authors find evidence of income‐increasing accrual and real manipulation for SEOs in the year prior to the offering in the pre‐SarbOx period, and find some evidence of a shift to real account manipulation post‐SarbOx. The authors examine the subsequent litigation pattern of these SEOs, and find that firms that are subsequently sued have a higher prevalence of income‐increasing discretionary accruals when the lawsuit allegations involve accounting issues. Following SarbOx, investors are paying less attention to accrual manipulation through accounts receivable and there is more scrutiny of real account manipulation. Originality/value – The implication in this paper is that firms that engage in income‐increasing earnings management are more likely to be sued when they engage in accrual manipulation while other forms of manipulation may be less understood. This finding is important to investors and regulators. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Accounting Research Journal Emerald Publishing

Real and accrual‐based earnings management and its legal consequences Evidence from seasoned equity offerings

Accounting Research Journal , Volume 24 (1): 29 – Jul 19, 2011

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1030-9616
DOI
10.1108/10309611111148779
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Prior research suggests that firms manipulate earnings through accruals to achieve certain reporting objectives. Recently, especially following the Sarbanes‐Oxley (SarbOx) Act, researchers have turned their attention to real account manipulation as an alternative. However, there is no evidence on whether the likelihood of being detected by outsiders is different for firms using these alternative manipulation methods. The purpose of this paper is to examine this research question in the context of seasoned equity offerings (SEOs). Design/methodology/approach – First, the authors compare SEOs to a matched sample of non‐SEOs to document income‐increasing manipulation. Next, they identify SEOs that prompt lawsuits and compare sued and non‐sued firms to determine whether using a particular method of manipulation is more likely to be detected and associated with litigation. Findings – The authors find evidence of income‐increasing accrual and real manipulation for SEOs in the year prior to the offering in the pre‐SarbOx period, and find some evidence of a shift to real account manipulation post‐SarbOx. The authors examine the subsequent litigation pattern of these SEOs, and find that firms that are subsequently sued have a higher prevalence of income‐increasing discretionary accruals when the lawsuit allegations involve accounting issues. Following SarbOx, investors are paying less attention to accrual manipulation through accounts receivable and there is more scrutiny of real account manipulation. Originality/value – The implication in this paper is that firms that engage in income‐increasing earnings management are more likely to be sued when they engage in accrual manipulation while other forms of manipulation may be less understood. This finding is important to investors and regulators.

Journal

Accounting Research JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 19, 2011

Keywords: United States of America; Accrual manipulation; Real manipulation; Earnings management; Seasoned equity offerings; Sarbanes‐Oxley; Litigation

References