When Does Comparability Better Enhance Relevance? Policy Implications from Empirical Evidence
54 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018
Date Written: July 24, 2018
This study investigates the user-specific contexts under which comparability better enhances relevance of accounting information. We first confirm the intuition in the FASB’s (2010) current conceptual framework by documenting that the short-window earnings response coefficient (ERC) is positively associated with the pre-determined level of comparability. Using the cross-sectional variation in the positive relation between ERC and comparability, we show that the link between ERC and comparability is more pronounced for firms with higher investor sophistication and lower information asymmetry among investors. We further support our predictions using analysts’ earnings forecast revisions and various alternative measures of earnings informativeness. In sum, our paper shows that comparability improves information users’ ability to identify similarities and differences across different firms to a greater extent when investor base is more sophisticated and private information is less prevalent. These results suggest that standard setters, regulators, and practitioners should devote more attention to the role of comparability in firms whose investors are less sophisticated and information environment is more opaque.
Keywords: conceptual framework, comparability, relevance, investor sophistication, information asymmetry
JEL Classification: G14, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation