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Individual Investors' Attention to Accounting Information: Message Board Discussions

73 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2010 Last revised: 10 Apr 2017

Alina Lerman

Yale School of Management

Date Written: April 9, 2017


Accounting standard setters and financial information providers are interested in individual investors’ use of accounting information but find it difficult to assess with conventional data sources. Financial message boards provide a unique medium with which to analyze individuals’ attention to accounting information on a large scale and in great detail. I examine accounting-related content in 1.94 million messages for 1,852 firms and find that individual investors pay considerable attention to accounting information. In accordance with the expectation that investors react to relevant information events, I find that accounting-related discussion is significantly elevated around the filings of earnings releases, 8-K reports, and some periodic reports. I provide significant descriptive detail on the nature of this discourse, including the variation in accounting discussion content across various firm and event characteristics. I also find that investors expand their accounting information acquisition and processing efforts in poor information climates, as evidenced by elevated discussion for firms with low analyst coverage, high analyst forecast dispersion, or high trading volume. Higher accounting discussion around the release of earnings announcements is associated with an increased earnings response and a slightly reduced contemporaneous bid-ask spread.

Keywords: individual investors, information environment, message boards, corporate disclosures

JEL Classification: D81, D83, G14, M41

Suggested Citation

Lerman, Alina, Individual Investors' Attention to Accounting Information: Message Board Discussions (April 9, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Alina Lerman (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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