Managers’ Use of Humor on Public Earnings Conference Calls
51 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2019 Last revised: 6 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 18, 2022
Despite the prevalence and importance of humor in interpersonal communication, the disclosure literature is silent on the use of humor in the context of corporate communication. Using a sophisticated machine learning algorithm, we identify managers’ successful uses of humor during public earnings conference calls. When managers use humor on an earnings call, stock market returns and analyst forecast revisions following the call are more positive, primarily because of a muted response to negative earnings news. Consistent with managers’ successful use of humor being a favorable signal of future firm performance, we find no evidence of a return reversal over the subsequent quarter, and managers’ use of humor predicts more favorable news at the subsequent quarter’s earnings announcement. Our study provides new evidence on the use of humor in corporate disclosures, and our findings indicate that humor can meaningfully influence the market response to public earnings conference calls.
Keywords: earnings conference calls, humor, disclosure, financial analysts, management
JEL Classification: G02, G20, G24, G29, D22, M40, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation