Analyst Disagreement, Forecast Bias and Stock Returns
48 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2006
Date Written: June 2004
We present evidence of inefficient information processing in equity markets by documenting that biases in analysts' earnings forecasts are reflected in stock prices. In particular, we show that investors fail to fully account for optimistic bias associated with analyst disagreement. This bias arises for two reasons. First, analysts issue more optimistic forecasts when earnings are uncertain. Second, analysts with sufficiently low earnings expectations who choose to keep quiet introduce an optimistic bias in the mean reported forecast that is increasing in the underlying disagreement. Indicators of the missing negative opinions predict earnings surprises and stock returns. By selling stocks with high analyst disagreement institutions exert correcting pressure on prices.
Keywords: analyst disagreement, earnings momentum, forecast bias, missing forecasts
JEL Classification: G12, G14, G24
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