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Accrual mispricing in the era of corporate governance reforms
journal contributionposted on 15.09.2020, 00:00 by Lan SunLan Sun
Purpose: This study is primarily motivated by the increasing concern of the academic, practitioners, regulators and standard setters regarding the quality of earnings and financial reporting. The purpose is to investigate whether the accrual anomaly exists in Australia; whether the occurrence of the accrual anomaly is attributed to the discretionary accruals component stemming from managerial discretion; and the impact of corporate governance reforms on accrual mispricing. Design/methodology/approach: This study employs the Mishkin (1983) rational expectations test to examine whether the earnings expectations embedded in stock prices accurately reflect the differential persistence of earnings components. It also employs the hedge portfolio trading strategy to examine whether taking a long position in firms with low accruals and a short position in firms with high accruals will yield positive abnormal stock returns. Findings: The results show that investors overestimate the persistence of accruals and underestimate the persistence of cash flows and subsequently, overprice the accruals and underprice the cash flows. The evidence of accrual mispricing is severe for the component of discretionary accruals. Nonetheless, the association between discretionary accruals and abnormal returns are weakened during the corporate governance reforms period. Research limitations/implications: It should be cautious to attribute the investors' ability to accurately price accruals and cash flows to the passage of corporate governance reform program. Despite there is control for firm size, book-to-market, PE multiple, growth and leverage, other macro-economic factors such as interest rates, inflation and GDP could potentially have an impact on stock returns. Practical implications: The passage of corporate governance reform program has increased the level of financial reporting disclosure and the monitoring of management, which subsequently improved accruals persistence and earnings quality. A direct practical implication is that investors should better understand the information in accruals for future earnings when the corporate disclosure environment is strengthened. Social implications: This study provides useful information to regulators, academics and investors interested in market efficiency and accrual mispricing. The results suggest that the reform of corporate governance is associated with more efficient prices. This may be of interest to the regulators who intend to improve earnings quality and financial reporting environment through the regulatory reform. Originality/value: To test the accrual anomaly in the period of corporate governance reforms is particularly useful to regulators and policy makers. It allows regulators and policy makers to gain insight as whether the change of regulation has been effective – more transparent and timely reporting of financial information are supposed to help the investors to better understand the accruals and thus mitigate the potential for accrual mispricing. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.