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The Information Content of Accounting Disclosures for Forecasting Sales of Manufacturing Firms

40 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2011 Last revised: 26 Jul 2012

Logan B. Steele

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Mark A. Trombley

University of Arizona - Eller College of Management

Date Written: July 25, 2012

Abstract

We identify accounting disclosures of manufacturing firms that may be useful for forecasting year-ahead sales and develop a forecasting model incorporating these disclosures. We find that the most useful disclosures are prior sales growth, days sales outstanding, employees, margin and order backlog. We find that our forecasting model incorporating these disclosures provides forecasting ability incremental to that from analysts’ forecasts alone. In return-based tests, we find that a strategy of buying (selling) the 20% of firms with the largest positive (negative) difference between the model-based sales growth forecasts and analysts’ sales growth forecasts results in an annualized risk-adjusted return of 6.04%. The pattern of these returns is consistent with analysts over-extrapolating prior sales growth and markets discovering the analysts’ errors during the subsequent year, and with our model identifying firms where this has occurred. We conclude that the information in accounting disclosures about future sales is not fully impounded in analysts’ forecasts or in stock prices.

Keywords: Sales Forecasting, Accounting Disclosures, Analysts Forecasts

JEL Classification: M41, G14

Suggested Citation

Steele, Logan B. and Trombley, Mark A., The Information Content of Accounting Disclosures for Forecasting Sales of Manufacturing Firms (July 25, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1928746 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1928746

Logan B. Steele

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

Fitchburg, WI 53706
United States

Mark A. Trombley (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Eller College of Management ( email )

McClelland Hall
P.O. Box 210108
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4805 (Phone)
520-621-3742 (Fax)

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