Why Firms Announce Good News Late: Earnings Management and Financial Reporting Timeliness
58 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2017 Last revised: 7 May 2021
Date Written: May 3, 2021
Prior studies find that delayed earnings announcements tend to communicate unfavorable news, and investors react negatively when firms delay earnings announcements. However, these findings do not explain why investors discount delayed earnings, even after controlling for the earnings news, and why firms sometimes announce good news late. Motivated by theory from Trueman (1990) that attempts to explain these phenomena, we examine whether announcement delays indicate earnings management. We predict and find that good news firms with higher discretionary accruals are more likely to announce earnings late. Consistent with post fiscal year-end activities driving announcement delays, we fail to find a relation between measures of real earnings management and late announcements. Using a last-chance earnings management measure based on tax expense manipulation, we also predict and find strong evidence that good news firms engaging in last-chance earnings management are more likely to delay earnings announcements. Consistent with Trueman’s (1990) theory that earnings management explains why investors discount delayed earnings announcements, we find that, on average, earnings announcement returns are 1.4 percent lower for late announcers relying on last-chance earnings management to report good news. Overall, our findings suggest that announcement delays provide information about not only the sign of the earnings news but also the potential for earnings management.
Keywords: earnings announcements; announcement timing; earnings management; last-chance earnings management; tax expense; earnings calendar
JEL Classification: G10, G11, G14, M40, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation