Managerial Discretion in Distressed Firms
Posted: 14 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2007
This study examines the earnings management behaviour of 455 distressed US firms that filed for bankruptcy during the period 1986-2001. We examine (a) possible earnings management during the years prior to bankruptc-filing, (b) whether qualified audit opinions cause conservative earnings management behaviour, (c) whether earnings management differs between firms that discontinued operations and firms that survived thereafter, and (d) the effect of earnings management on subsequent stock returns. Our results are consistent with downwards earnings management 1 year prior to the bankruptcy-filing. Results also show that (a) firms receiving unqualified audit opinions 4 or 5 years prior to the bankruptcy-filing event manage earnings upwards in subsequent years, consistent with Rosner [2003. Earnings manipulation in failing firms. Contemporary Accounting Research 20, 361-408], (b) more conservative earnings management seems to be related to the qualified audit opinions rendered in the preceding year, (c) firms with long-term negative accruals the year of bankruptcy-filing have a greater chance to survive thereafter, and (d) more pronounced (negative) earnings management is associated with more negative (next year’s) subsequent returns.
Keywords: Distress, Bankruptcy, Earnings management, Audit opinion, Stock returns
JEL Classification: G14, G24, G32, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation