Material Changes in Accounting Estimates and the Usefulness of Earnings
54 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017 Last revised: 9 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 21, 2022
This study provides insights into the efficacy of FASB ASC 250 by examining the impact of material changes in accounting estimates (MCEs) on the usefulness of earnings. We find that MCEs, on average, increase the usefulness of earnings measured by the predictive ability of earnings for future cash flows and investor responsiveness to earnings news. Although the results suggest that some firms time their implementation of MCEs to meet desired earnings targets, we also find that ASC 250 disclosures attract investors and regulators’ scrutiny, suggesting that MCEs are a costly earnings management tool. Collectively, our findings provide limited support for the widespread use of MCEs for earnings management and suggest that their use as an earnings management tool is much more nuanced than suggested by prior research. Finally, notwithstanding the benefits of ASC 250 disclosures, our descriptive analysis of related disclosures of accounting estimates suggests that there is room for further improvements in current disclosure practices and regulatory monitoring.
Keywords: accounting estimates, management discretion, disclosure regulation, usefulness of earnings
JEL Classification: M41, M43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation