Managers Set the Tone: Equity Incentives and the Tone of Earnings Press Releases
41 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2014 Last revised: 21 Nov 2017
Date Written: August 15, 2015
Earnings press releases, as a timely vehicle for communicating a firm's performance to third parties, can be used by managers to influence the perception of the firm's achievements. Taking the stock price reaction to the tone of earnings press releases at earnings announcements into account, we argue that equity-based incentives induce managers to inflate the tone. We further posit that the impact of tone on the abnormal stock returns at the earnings announcements depends on the magnitude of the equity-based incentives. Based on over 26,000 earnings press releases of S&P1500 firms between 2004Q4 and 2012Q4, we find that the tone of earnings press releases tends to be more positive when the managerial portfolio value is more closely tied to the firm's stock price. We also find that investors react proportionally less to the tone as managers' equity incentives increase.
Keywords: Equity incentives, Market efficiency, Textual tone, Voluntary disclosure
JEL Classification: G14, G17, M40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation