The Asymmetric Market Valuation of Nonrecurring Items and Accounting Conservatism
Richard Zhe Wang
Eastern Illinois University
Madeline Kay Trimble
University of Mannheim
May 13, 2011
This paper investigates the asymmetric market valuation of negative and positive nonrecurring items as explained by accounting conservatism. We argue that special items, also known as nonrecurring operating gains and losses, have asymmetric market valuations, as proxied for by the earning response coefficient (ERC). This paper has two main findings: (1) an asymmetry exists in the valuation of positive and negative special items; and (2) the asymmetry can be explained by the idea of accounting conservatism, which is the tendency that firms report economic losses on a timelier basis than economic gains. The above two findings are supported by our empirical tests, which show that negative special items are more value relevant (i.e. have a higher ERC) than positive ones due to the fact that nonrecurring losses are impounded in earnings much quicker than nonrecurring gains. Thus, negative and positive special items are not valued equally by investors - an asymmetry exists. Furthermore, as the level of conservatism increases within a firm, this asymmetry of market valuation becomes larger, signifying that the value relevance of negative special items increases at a rate greater than that of positive special items.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: special items, value relevance, accounting conservatism, C-Score
JEL Classification: M40, M41
Date posted: May 15, 2011 ; Last revised: July 19, 2011
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