Do Analysts at Independent Research Firms Make Better Earnings Forecasts?
46 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2003
Date Written: July 2003
This study compares the earnings forecasts of analysts employed by independent research firms to those of analysts employed by investment banks along the dimensions of accuracy and optimism. We discuss the conflicts of interest faced by both groups and suggest that, despite incentives stemming from corporate financing operations, investment bank analysts may nevertheless provide superior forecasts. We provide evidence on this empirical question using a sample of analyst forecasts from 1998-2001. Our results reveal that short-term forecasts made by investment bank analysts are on average more accurate and less optimistic than those from analysts employed by independent research firms. Our results are robust to controlling for several relevant factors identified in prior research and are consistent across both annual and quarterly earnings forecasts. We also examine the optimism in long-term earnings growth forecasts and fail to find a significant difference between the two groups.
Keywords: financial analysts, forecast accuracy, earnings forecasts, forecast optimism, investment banks, independent research firms
JEL Classification: G14, G24, G29, M41, J44
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