Analyst Coverage and Intangible Assets
Mary E. Barth
Stanford University - Graduate School of Business
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Maureen F. McNichols
This study examines the relation between analyst activity and intangible assets. Because intangible assets typically are unrecognized and estimates of their fair values are not disclosed, absent analyst coverage, firms with more intangible assets likely have less informative prices. Accordingly, we expect analysts have greater incentives to cover firms with more intangible assets and, thus, predict that they have higher analyst coverage. Our tests employ eight proxies that reflect industries' and firms' intangible assets related to research and development and advertising activities, and sundry other intangible assets. We also predict and find that analyst coverage is increasing in firm size, growth, trading volume, equity issuance, and perceived mispricing, and is decreasing in the size of the firm's analysts' brokerage houses and effort analysts expend to follow the firm. These findings indicate that analyst coverage depends on private benefits and costs of covering a firm. We also test hypotheses related to analyst effort. We predict and find that analysts expend greater effort to follow firms with more intangible assets, after controlling for other factors associated with analyst effort. Our evidence indicates that intangible assets, most of which are not recognized in firms' financial statements, are associated with greater incentives for analysts to cover such firms, and greater costs of coverage. An open question is whether financial statement recognition of intangible assets could more efficiently provide information about such assets to investors.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 56
Keywords: Analyst coverage, intangible assets
JEL Classification: M41, G29working papers series
Date posted: March 26, 2001
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