Audit Committee Stock Options and Financial Reporting Quality after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
Campbell, J.L., J. Hansen, C.A. Simon, and J.L. Smith. “Audit Committee Stock Options and Financial Reporting Quality after the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002” Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory 34 (2): 91-120.
Posted: 3 Oct 2011 Last revised: 20 May 2015
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and its associated regulations significantly expanded the oversight role of audit committees and improved independence, but regulators bypassed restrictions on audit committee equity incentives. We examine the association of audit committee members' equity incentives and financial reporting quality in the post-SOX time period. We find that audit committee members' stock-option awards and holdings are positively associated with the likelihood of meeting/beating analyst earnings forecasts. On average, a company whose audit committee holds the mean value of exercisable option holdings is associated with a 10.0 percent increase in the likelihood of meeting or just beating its consensus analyst forecast. This effect increases to 17.8 percent for companies with high-growth opportunities. These results suggest that — even in the post-SOX era — the stock-option incentives provided to independent audit committee members are associated with reduced financial reporting quality.
Keywords: audit committee quality, financial reporting quality, independence, financial reporting oversight
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