Accounting for Intangibles and Managerial Information*

46 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2009

Date Written: September 9, 2009

Abstract

In this study, I investigate whether managers’ capitalization of intangible assets conveys information about the amount and timing of future cash flows. I find a positive and significant association between capitalized SD (Software Development) expenditures and future cash flows. The positive relation between capitalized SD expenditures and future cash flows is stronger for firms with high analyst forecast dispersion and low analyst following, indicating managers may use the capitalization decision to convey private information when incentives to do so are higher. However, I find the association is lower for firms whose capitalized SD expenditures allowed them to meet or beat analysts’ forecasts, consistent with managers using the capitalization decision opportunistically. Further, the association between capitalized SD expenditures and future cash flows is stronger than the association between reported R&D expense and future cash flows for firms that capitalize, when measured over the subsequent five years. These findings suggest that on average managers who capitalize SD expenditures use their private information to convey the future cash flow implications of SD expenditures; but that in some situations they may also use the capitalization decision opportunistically.

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Wolfe, Mindy, Accounting for Intangibles and Managerial Information* (September 9, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1470978 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1470978

Mindy Wolfe (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo ( email )

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada
519-888-4567 ext 38899 (Phone)

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