Earnings Management Strategies to Maintain a String of Meeting or Beating Analyst Expectations
Advances in Accounting, Forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2018 Last revised: 14 May 2020
Date Written: September 10, 2018
Prior studies provide consistent evidence that firms use a combination of management forecast guidance, accrual earning management (AEM), and real activity earnings management (REM) to meet or beat analyst expectations (MBE). While recent evidence (e.g. Kross et al. 2011) suggests that management forecast guidance is a less effective MBE strategy for firms with longer strings of MBE, less is known about the use of AEM and REM to manage MBE strings as the string lengthens. Since managements’ incentives and actions taken to maintain earnings strings may differ as the string lengthens and becomes more difficult to sustain, we examine the extent to which managers use AEM and REM to MBE as the string grows longer. We find evidence that while firms with shorter MBE strings appear more likely to use income increasing AEM to sustain their MBE strings, the use of income increasing AEM decreases for longer MBE strings. Further, we document that firms with longer MBE strings use more income increasing REM to avoid breaking the MBE string. Collectively, our results suggest that researchers investigating firms’ earnings management choices to sustain MBE strings should control for the length of the MBE string in their research design.
Keywords: Meeting or Beating Expectations, Accrual Earnings Management, Real Earnings Management
JEL Classification: G23 G30, G32, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation