Analyst information precision and small earnings surprises

Analyst information precision and small earnings surprises This study proposes and tests an alternative to the extant earnings management explanation for zero and small positive earnings surprises (i.e., analyst forecast errors). We argue that analysts’ ability to strategically induce slight pessimism in earnings forecasts varies with the precision of their information. Accordingly, we predict that the probability that a firm reports a small positive instead of a small negative earnings surprise is negatively related to earnings forecast uncertainty, and we present evidence consistent with this prediction. Our findings have important implications for the earnings management interpretation of the asymmetry around zero in the frequency distribution of earnings surprises. We demonstrate how empirically controlling for earnings forecast uncertainty can materially change inferences in studies that employ the incidence of zero and small positive earnings surprises to categorize firms as suspected of managing earnings. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Accounting Studies Springer Journals

Analyst information precision and small earnings surprises

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by The Author(s)
Subject
Business and Management; Accounting/Auditing; Corporate Finance; Public Finance
ISSN
1380-6653
eISSN
1573-7136
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11142-016-9370-2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study proposes and tests an alternative to the extant earnings management explanation for zero and small positive earnings surprises (i.e., analyst forecast errors). We argue that analysts’ ability to strategically induce slight pessimism in earnings forecasts varies with the precision of their information. Accordingly, we predict that the probability that a firm reports a small positive instead of a small negative earnings surprise is negatively related to earnings forecast uncertainty, and we present evidence consistent with this prediction. Our findings have important implications for the earnings management interpretation of the asymmetry around zero in the frequency distribution of earnings surprises. We demonstrate how empirically controlling for earnings forecast uncertainty can materially change inferences in studies that employ the incidence of zero and small positive earnings surprises to categorize firms as suspected of managing earnings.

Journal

Review of Accounting StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 22, 2016

References

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