Signaling via Earnings Downgrades: How Reputational Concerns Shape Analyst Responses to Corporate Fraud?
Forthcoming, Corporate Governance: An International Review
61 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 2, 2020
This study examines reactions of financial analysts to the disclosure of corporate fraud. We posit that analysts downgrade earnings forecasts of fraud firms after fraud disclosure to signal their quality and integrity. We explore how internal and external contingencies shape analysts’ reputational concerns, influence their motivation to signal via earnings downgrades, and consequently affect their responses to corporate fraud. Using longitudinal data on Chinese publicly traded firms between 2002 and 2013 and employing a difference-in-differences design, this study documents that financial analysts significantly lower their earnings estimates of fraudulent firms after fraud disclosure compared to the control group of non-fraud firms. In addition, post-disclosure earnings downgrades are larger for more experienced analysts, for analysts following firms with stronger analyst coverage, and after the revision of the professional ethics code for analysts. This study provides empirical support to signaling theory. We show that earnings downgrades of fraudulent firms may serve as a signal for financial analysts to indicate their quality and integrity. We document that analysts’ motivation to signal via earnings downgrades is influenced by their reputational concerns, which are moderated by their career experience, peer pressure, professional norm and social expectations.
Keywords: Financial Analyst, Corporate Fraud, Reputation, Signaling, Codes of Ethics
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