Analysts’ Cash Flow Forecasts and the Decline of the Accruals Anomaly
57 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2014
Date Written: June 1, 2013
The accruals anomaly, demonstrated by Sloan (1996), generated significant excess returns consistently for over four decades until 2002, but has apparently weakened in the subsequent period. In this paper, I argue that one factor responsible for this decline is the increasing incidence of analysts’ cash flow forecasts that provides markets with forecasts of future accruals. The negative relationship between accruals and future returns is significantly weaker in the presence of cash flow forecasts. This anomalous relationship becomes weaker with the initiation cash flow forecasts but continues after cash flow forecasts are terminated. Further, the mitigating effect of cash flow forecasts is greater for forecasts that are more accurate. The results are incremental to explanations based on the improved accrual quality, reduced manipulation of special items and restructuring charges and greater investment in accruals strategies by hedge funds and highlight the increasing importance of analysts’ cash flow forecasts in the appropriate valuation of stocks.
Keywords: Accrual Anomaly, Cash flow forecasts, Market mispricing, Equity valuation
JEL Classification: M40, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation