Material Weakness Disclosures and Restatement Announcements: The Joint and Order Effects
37 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2019
Date Written: January/February 2019
We examine differences in stock price, option volatility, and litigation reactions to restatement announcements that are associated with a material weakness (MW) disclosure. Contrasted with restatements that are not associated with any MW disclosure, our analyses reveal that firms that announce both a restatement and an associated MW experience significantly more negative market returns, greater implied volatility, and higher likelihood of class action lawsuits. Separating the restatements into timely reporters, where the MW precedes the restatement, and non‐timely reporters, where the MW is concurrent with or follows the restatement, we find that timely reporters experience more negative returns at the time of the restatement, relative to non‐timely reporters, suggesting that investors perceive the early MW disclosure to signal more pervasive control‐related problems. Interestingly, we find that timely and non‐timely reporters are equally likely to be sued, consistent with the argument that wrongdoing (through either a timely or non‐timely MW disclosure) provides stronger grounds for establishing scienter. However, timely reporters appear to secure more favorable litigation outcomes: they face higher likelihood of lawsuit dismissals and pay much lower settlements, compared to non‐timely reporters. Overall, our evidence provides new insights into how market participants incorporate information about internal control weaknesses into their perceptions regarding the economic implications of financial restatements, and financial reporting quality.
Keywords: class actions, financial reporting quality, market reaction, material weakness disclosure, restatements
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