The readability of company responses to SEC comment letters and SEC 10-K filing review outcomes
Review of Accounting Studies 24 (4): 1252-1276
Posted: 19 Apr 2015 Last revised: 10 Dec 2019
Date Written: February 2019
An emerging literature shows that shareholders benefit from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) filing reviews in terms of improved disclosures and reduced information asymmetry. However, these reviews also impose significant costs on companies because comment letter remediation diverts time and resources away from normal operations and may result in restated or amended filings. Applying processing fluency theory, we examine whether the readability of the company’s initial response to an SEC comment letter is associated with the likelihood of unfavorable outcomes from the review. We find that less readable company responses are associated with longer SEC response times and a greater likelihood that the company restates or amends a reviewed filing. Because the company response is preceded by a specific request for information from the SEC (i.e., a prompt), our setting allows for an improved ability to disentangle the effects of disclosure readability from the effects of disclosure content.
Keywords: amendments, readability, remediation costs, restatements, SEC comment letters
JEL Classification: M41, M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation