ABSTRACT Managers play earnings surprise games to avoid negative earnings surprises by managing earnings upward or by managing analysts' earnings expectations downward. We investigate the effectiveness of the financial reporting process at restraining earnings surprise games. Because the annual reporting process is subject to an independent audit and more rigorous expense recognition rules than interim reporting, it provides managers with fewer opportunities to manage earnings upward. We document that, relative to interim reporting, annual reporting reduces the likelihood of income‐increasing earnings management and, to a lesser extent, of negative surprise avoidance, but increases the magnitude of downward expectations management. Our findings suggest that regulatory attempts to monitor corporations' internal checks and balances are likely to be more effective at curbing upward earnings management than at mitigating negative surprise avoidance.
Journal of Accounting Research – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2007
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