This paper investigates alternative models of learning to explain changes in uncertainty surrounding earnings innovations. As a proxy for investor uncertainty, we use model-free implied volatilities; as a proxy for earnings innovations, representing signals of firm performance likely to drive investor perceptions of uncertainty, we use quarterly unexpected earnings benchmarked to the consensus forecast. We document that uncertainty declines on average after the release of quarterly earnings announcements and this decline is attenuated by the magnitude of the earnings innovation. This latter result is consistent with models that incorporate signal magnitude as a factor driving changes in uncertainty. Most important, we document that signals deviating sufficiently from expectations lead to net increases in uncertainty. Critically, this result suggests that models allowing for posterior variance to be greater than prior variance even after signal revelation [e.g., regime shifts in Pastor and Veronesi (Annu Rev Financ Econ 1:361–381, 2009)] better describe how investors incorporate new information.
Review of Accounting Studies – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 4, 2016
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