77 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2018 Last revised: 11 Aug 2021
Date Written: July 1, 2021
Consensus estimates, formed by taking an average of analyst forecasts, play an important role in capital markets (e.g., provide investors with a proxy for earnings expectations). We show I/B/E/S, a prominent information intermediary, removes 6% of one-quarter-ahead earnings forecasts before calculating the consensus and among the 23% of firm-quarters with at least one forecast removed, this figure rises to 16%. We provide evidence suggesting that I/B/E/S subjectively applies policies that govern its removal decisions and accepts feedback from firms that contributes to this subjectivity. Specifically, we find optimistic forecasts are removed more frequently than pessimistic forecasts, and such asymmetry increases further when removals allow firms to meet or beat the consensus. Furthermore, we find that these effects are more pronounced when managers’ incentives to just meet or beat the consensus are stronger (i.e., higher subsequent insider sales or higher compensation delta), or managers have greater ability to influence I/B/E/S. Lastly, we demonstrate that these subjective removals benefit I/B/E/S by improving consensus accuracy, explaining why I/B/E/S is willing to be influenced by firms.
Keywords: Forecast removals, firm influence, expectation management, analyst forecasts, I/B/E/S, forecast optimism, consensus accuracy
JEL Classification: D62, D82, G14, M40, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation