The Consistency of Mandatory and Voluntary Management Earnings Forecasts and Implications for Analyst and Investor Information Processing
47 Pages Posted: 14 May 2016
Date Written: April 21, 2016
In this study we examine whether managers' voluntary forecasts of future earnings are consistent with the implicit forecasts of future earnings that underlie a specific mandatory accrual, the valuation allowance. This accrual relies heavily on managerial estimation and is also based, in part, on managers’ private, forward-looking information. Thus, it provides an ideal setting to investigate the interplay between voluntary and mandatory financial disclosures. By examining the consistency between the voluntary and mandatory forecasts, we are also able to provide insight into whether the predictable accrual-related bias in voluntary earnings forecasts carries over into the mandatory forecast embedded in the valuation allowance. We then investigate whether the biased voluntary earnings guidance helps analysts and investors more accurately interpret the information in valuation allowance changes about future earnings expectations. To increase the power of our tests we utilize a sample of loss firms, which frequently record valuation allowances to fully or partially offset deferred tax assets.
We first document that more than 62 percent of our sample of loss firms report valuation allowance changes and management earnings guidance that convey the same basic information about future earnings (i.e., either both forecast profit or both forecast loss). Thus, these voluntary and mandatory forecasts are largely consistent with each other. We then provide evidence that managers provide overly pessimistic forecasts for observations whose valuation allowance changes signal bad news about future earnings, but overly optimistic forecasts for observations whose valuation allowance changes signal strong good news about future earnings. Finally, our results suggest that managers' biased earnings forecasts actually help analysts and investors more accurately interpret the information about future earnings in valuation allowance changes. Our findings provide new insights into actions managers can take to improve investor and analyst processing of financial statement-based tax information.
Keywords: Valuation Allowance, Management Forecasts, Voluntary Disclosure, Mandatory Disclosure
JEL Classification: G14, M41, M49,
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation