The Effect of Managerial Litigation Risk on Earnings Warnings: Evidence from a Natural Experiment
Journal of Accounting Research, Volume 58, Issue 2
Posted: 15 Mar 2021
Date Written: December 1, 2020
We examine the causal effect of managerial litigation risk on managers’ disclosure of earnings warnings in the face of large earnings shortfalls. Exploring the staggered adoption of universal demand (UD) laws as an exogenous decrease in litigation risk, we find that the adoption leads to a decrease in managers’ issuance of earnings warnings, especially among firms facing a higher litigation risk prior to the adoption. In contrast, we find no change in managers’ tendency to alert investors of impending large positive earnings surprises. Collectively, our results provide causal evidence that higher litigation risk incentivizes managers to issue more earnings warnings. Our results differ from Bourveau et al.’s finding of an increase in the frequency of management earnings forecasts after the adoption of UD laws. We reconcile our findings with theirs by demonstrating that the effect of adopting UD laws on management earnings forecasts depends critically on forecast horizon: The adoption increases long‐horizon forecasts, but decreases short‐horizon forecasts.
Keywords: litigation risk; earnings warning; universal demand laws; management earnings forecast; forecast horizon
JEL Classification: K41, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation