We hypothesize and find that (1) earnings conservatism, the tendency of firms to recognize bad news in earnings on a more timely basis than good news, is substantially greater in portfolios of firms with lower price‐to‐book ratios than in portfolios of firms with higher price‐to‐book ratios; and (2) the negative association between earnings conservatism and the price‐to‐book ratio stems primarily from the accrual component of earnings, not the operating cash flow component of earnings. Our results suggest that studies using earnings‐returns associations to investigate cross‐sectional or time‐series differences in earnings conservatism risk drawing erroneous inferences unless the research designs control for cross‐sectional or time‐series variation in price‐to‐book ratios.
Contemporary Accounting Research – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 2005
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