Forward-Looking Disclosures, Financial Verifiability and Analysts' Forecasts: A Study of Cross-Listed European Firms
Posted: 28 Oct 2008 Last revised: 22 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 27, 2008
Forward-looking disclosures are a crucial source of information when valuing a company. We study the effect of forward-looking disclosures on analysts' forecast properties, in particular accuracy and dispersion. Our sample includes all the non-financial firms from Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland that in year 2002 were cross-listed on local stock exchanges and on the New York Stock Exchange. We conduct a content analysis on the Annual Report and the 20F form of these companies for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004. We differentiate between forward-looking information on the basis of the disclosure of expected effects on future financial performance and the disclosure of a measure of this impact. We define forward looking information disclosed with the characteristics of being quantified and directed (and financial) as financially verifiable as it facilitates the comparison with its subsequent realisation in relation to expected future financial performance. Our analysis finds support for the theoretical prediction that verifiable disclosures are more effective than unverifiable disclosures at improving accuracy and reducing dispersion of analysts' forecasts. Our sample also allows us to explore the effects of the difference between the degrees of verifiability between forward-looking disclosures of the 20F form versus those of the domestic annual report. Our analysis provides empirical support for the hypotheses that these differences are significant and have a significant effect on forecast properties.
Keywords: forward-looking disclosure, financial analysts, forecast dispersion and accuracy, cross-listing, Annual Report and 20F, (financially) verifiable information
JEL Classification: M41, M45, M47, G14, G29
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