Accruals and the Prediction of Future Cash Flows
53 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 1999
Date Written: November 1999
We compare the predictive abilities of earnings and cash flows for future cash flows. We base our predictions on a model of the relation between future cash flows and past earnings and its components, including cash flows. As predicted, we find that current and past earnings explain significantly more variation in future cash flows than current and past cash flows, but only after permitting the cash and accrual components of earnings to have different multiples. As predicted, disaggregating the accrual component of earnings significantly further enhances the predictive ability of earnings for future cash flows. Contrary to claims in the popular press, the depreciation and amortization components of earnings have significant predictive ability for future cash flows. Our inferences are robust to controlling for operating cycle and industry membership.
JEL Classification: G12, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation