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Earnings Management and the Independence or Interdependence of Accounting Choices: the Decision to Adopt Mandated Accounting Changes

Description: This research examines whether firms managed earnings in the year they adopted SFAS 109, Accounting for Income Taxes (or its predecessor SFAS 96), by combining the choice to adopt SFAS 109 with other accounting choices in an interdependent rather than independent manner. Prior literature generally analyzes only one specific accounting choice, assuming that the decision is independent of other accounting procedure choices. However, it is unlikely that managers act in this manner. When attempting to achieve certain income goals, managers have numerous accounting tools available to them including the choice of accounting procedures and the exercise of judgment as to accrual amounts. This study investigates five choices consisting of: (1) the adoption of SFAS 109/96; (2) the adoption of SFAS 106; (3) the reporting of a restructuring of operations and/or a write-down of assets; (4) the reporting of asset sales; and (5) the choice of discretionary accruals. The study adopts both a portfolio and joint decision approach. The portfolio approach combines the earnings effects of the five choices into a single dependent variable and tests income smoothing, big bath, and debt hypotheses. The joint decision approach utilizes simultaneous equation methodology to investigate the interdependence of the five choices and the independent variables. The portfolio approach findings provide evidence that firms used the combined effect of the five accounting choices to smooth income in the year they adopted FAS 109/96. The results also provide support for the debt hypothesis but do not support the big bath hypothesis. The joint decision approach findings provide evidence that firms jointly determined at least two of the five accounting choices. The strong support for the income smoothing hypothesis under the portfolio approach combined with the joint significance of the individual accounting choices in the simultaneous equations suggests that firms use a multitude of accounting choices ...
Date: December 1997
Creator: Nichols, Nancy Brown
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effect of SFAS No. 141 and SFAS No. 142 on the Accuracy of Financial Analysts' Earnings Forecasts after Mergers

Description: This study examines the impact of Statements of Financial Accounting Standards No. 141 and No. 142 (hereafter SFAS 141, 142) on the characteristics of financial analysts' earnings forecasts after mergers. Specifically, I predict lower forecast errors for firms that experienced mergers after the enactment of SFAS 141, 142 than for firms that went through business combinations before those accounting changes. Study results present strong evidence that earnings forecast errors for companies involved in merging and acquisition activity decreased after the adoption of SFAS 141, 142. Test results also suggest that lower earnings forecast errors are attributable to factors specific to merging companies such as SFAS 141, 142 but not common to merging and non-merging companies. In addition, evidence implies that information in corporate annual reports of merging companies plays the critical role in this decrease of earnings forecast error. Summarily, I report that SFAS 141, 142 were effective in achieving greater transparency of financial reporting after mergers. In my complementary analysis, I also document the structure of corporate analysts' coverage in "leaders/followers" terms and conduct tests for differences in this structure: (1) across post-SFAS 141,142/pre-SFAS 141, 142 environments, and (2) between merging and non-merging firms. Although I do not identify any significant differences in coverage structure across environments, my findings suggest that lead analysts are not as accurate as followers when predicting earnings for firms actively involved in mergers. I also detect a significant interaction between the SFAS-environment code and leader/follower classification, which indicates greater improvement of lead analyst forecast accuracy in the post-SFAS 141, 142 environment relative to their followers. This interesting discovery demands future investigation and confirms the importance of financial reporting transparency for the accounting treatment of business combinations.
Date: May 2005
Creator: Mintchik, Natalia Maksimovna
Partner: UNT Libraries