Value Destruction and Financial Reporting Decisions
John R. Graham
Duke University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Campbell R. Harvey
Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Emory University - Goizueta Business School
September 6, 2006
We recently conducted a comprehensive survey that analyzes how senior financial executives make decisions related to performance measurement and voluntary disclosure. In particular, we ask CFOs what earnings benchmarks they care about and which factors motivate executives to exercise discretion, and even sacrifice economic value, to deliver earnings. These issues are crucially linked to stock market performance. Much of the media attention is focused on a small number of high profile firms that have engaged in earnings fraud. Our results show that the destruction of shareholder value through legal means is pervasive, if not a routine way of doing business. Indeed, we assert that the amount of value destroyed by firms striving to hit earnings targets exceeds the value lost in these high profile fraud cases.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Earnings management, earnings smoothing, consensus earnings, meeting benchmarks, value destruction, agency problems, real earnings management, unexpected earnings, earnings surprise, net present value
JEL Classification: G14, G30, G32, M41, M43, M49, G38
Date posted: December 20, 2005
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