The Economic Implications of Corporate Financial Reporting

Posted: 12 Jan 2005  

John R. Graham

Duke University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Campbell R. Harvey

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Shivaram Rajgopal

Columbia Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Abstract

We survey 401 financial executives, and conduct in-depth interviews with an additional 20, to determine the key factors that drive decisions related to performance measurement and voluntary disclosure. The majority of firms view earnings, especially EPS, as the key metric for an external audience, more so than cash flows. We find that the majority of managers would avoid initiating a positive NPV project if it meant falling short of the current quarter's consensus earnings. Similarly, more than three-fourths of the surveyed executives would give up economic value in exchange for smooth earnings. Managers believe that missing an earnings target or reporting volatile earnings reduces the predictability of earnings, which in turn reduces stock price because investors and analysts dislike uncertainty. We also find that managers make voluntary disclosures to reduce information risk associated with their stock but at the same time, try to avoid setting a disclosure precedent that will be difficult to maintain. In general, management's views support stock price motivations for earnings management and voluntary disclosure, but provide only modest evidence consistent with other theories of these phenomena (such as debt, political cost and bonus plan based hypotheses).

Keywords: Financial statement, earnings management, earnings benchmark, voluntary disclosure, information risk

JEL Classification: G35, G31, G32, G34, M41, M43, M45

Suggested Citation

Graham, John Robert and Harvey, Campbell R. and Rajgopal, Shivaram, The Economic Implications of Corporate Financial Reporting. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=647705

John Robert Graham

Duke University ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7857 (Phone)
919-660-8030 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Campbell R. Harvey

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7768 (Phone)
919-660-8030 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

Shivaram Rajgopal (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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