The persistence of earnings and cash flows and the role of special items: Implications for the accrual anomaly

The persistence of earnings and cash flows and the role of special items: Implications for the... We argue that high accruals are likely to be the outcome of rules with an income statement perspective, while low accruals are likely to be the outcome of rules with a balance sheet perspective, and that this has implications for the properties of earnings. Specifically, earnings persistence is affected both by the magnitude and sign of the accruals. Accruals improve the persistence of earnings relative to cash flows in high accrual firms, but reduce earnings persistence in low accrual firms. We show that the low persistence of earnings in low accrual firms is primarily driven by special items. We then show that special item-low accrual firms have higher future stock returns than other low accrual firms. This is consistent with investors misunderstanding the transitory nature of special items. Further analysis reveals that special item-low accrual firms have poor past performance and declines in investor recognition (analyst coverage and institutional holdings). Special items continue to explain future returns after controlling for these factors. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Accounting Studies Springer Journals

The persistence of earnings and cash flows and the role of special items: Implications for the accrual anomaly

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Publisher
Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Business and Management; Accounting/Auditing; Corporate Finance; Public Finance
ISSN
1380-6653
eISSN
1573-7136
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11142-006-9004-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We argue that high accruals are likely to be the outcome of rules with an income statement perspective, while low accruals are likely to be the outcome of rules with a balance sheet perspective, and that this has implications for the properties of earnings. Specifically, earnings persistence is affected both by the magnitude and sign of the accruals. Accruals improve the persistence of earnings relative to cash flows in high accrual firms, but reduce earnings persistence in low accrual firms. We show that the low persistence of earnings in low accrual firms is primarily driven by special items. We then show that special item-low accrual firms have higher future stock returns than other low accrual firms. This is consistent with investors misunderstanding the transitory nature of special items. Further analysis reveals that special item-low accrual firms have poor past performance and declines in investor recognition (analyst coverage and institutional holdings). Special items continue to explain future returns after controlling for these factors.

Journal

Review of Accounting StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: Jul 1, 2006

References

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