The Negative Impact of R&D Capitalization: A Value Relevance Approach
Posted: 18 Sep 2017
Date Written: 2006
Accounting for R&D costs is an open issue. SFAS N82 mandates that all R&D costs must be immediately expensed. IAS 38 requires capitalization of R&D costs if they meet certain criteria. Recent research papers show the value relevance of capitalized R&D. We test the value relevance of R&D reporting in a sample of 197 French firms between 1993 and 2002. The French context provides an interesting field for R&D value relevance studies because both accounting treatments of R&D costs (expensing and capitalization) are allowed. Unlike previous studies, we find that capitalized R&D is negatively associated with stock prices and returns. This negative coefficient on capitalized R&D implies that investors are concerned with and react negatively to capitalization of R&D. We also find that the firms choosing to capitalize (successful) R&D are smaller, more highly leveraged, less profitable and have less growth opportunities. Taking into account these characteristics, our robustness checks confirm that capitalized R&D is not associated with higher prices and is related to lower returns.
Keywords: R&D, Capitalization, Value Relevance
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