Short-Term Earnings Guidance and Earnings Management
52 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 5, 2011
We study the relation between short-term earnings guidance and earnings management. We find that firms issuing short-term earnings forecasts exhibit significantly lower absolute abnormal accruals, our proxy for earnings management, than do firms that do not issue earnings forecasts. Regular guiders also exhibit less earnings management than do less regular guiders. These findings are contrary to conventional wisdom but consistent with the implications of Dutta and Gigler (2002) and the expectations alignment role of earnings guidance (Ajinkya and Gift 1984). Our results continue to hold after we control for self-selection and potential reverse causality concerns, and in a setting where managers are documented to have strong incentives to manage earnings. Additional analysis reveals that guiding firms exhibit less income-increasing accrual management whether firms guide expectations upwards or downwards, and no evidence that guiding firms inflate earnings through real activities management. We also provide evidence to demonstrate that meeting-or-beating benchmarks is not an appropriate proxy for earnings management in our research setting.
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