The Benefits of Specific Risk-Factor Disclosures
60 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016 Last revised: 7 Dec 2016
Date Written: September 15, 2016
Practitioners have long criticized risk-factor disclosures in the 10-K as generic and boilerplate. In response, regulators emphasize the importance of being specific. By using a computing algorithm, this paper establishes a new measure (Specificity) to quantify the level of specificity of firms’ qualitative risk-factor disclosures. We first examine determinants of variations in Specificity and document that firms with high proprietary costs provide less specific risk-factor disclosures. More importantly, we find that, controlling for numerous determinants, the market reaction to the 10-K filing is positively and significantly associated with Specificity. In addition, our results suggest that analysts are better able to assess fundamental risk when firms’ risk-factor disclosures are more specific. Together, these findings suggest that more specific risk-factor disclosures benefit users of financial statements.
Keywords: Risk-Factor Disclosure, Specificity, Market Reactions, Trading Volume Reactions, Analyst Risk Assessments, Scenario Analysis
JEL Classification: G30, G31, G34, M41, M1, L20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation