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  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Does Earnings Quality Affect Information Asymmetry? Evidence...
    research summary posted April 17, 2014 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.05 Evaluating Accruals/Detection of Abnormal Accruals, 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.05 Earnings Targets and Management Behavior 
    Title:
    Does Earnings Quality Affect Information Asymmetry? Evidence from Trading Costs
    Practical Implications:

    The quality of reported in earnings is influenced by a firm’s fundamentals. To the extent investors differ in their ability to process this information, poor earnings quality can lead to information asymmetry, which can be costly. For these reasons, standard-setters and regulators are concerned about the quality of accounting information and its consequences for capital markets. This study provides empirical support for the concerns articulated by regulators that an important adverse consequence of poor earnings quality is increased information asymmetry and reduced liquidity.

    For more information on this study, please contact Nilabhra Bhattacharya.
     

    Citation:

    Bhattacharya, N., H. Desai, and K. Venkataraman. 2013. Does Earnings Quality Affect Information Asymmetry? Evidence from Trading Costs. Contemporary Accounting Research 30 (2).

    Keywords:
    financial reporting; earnings quality; information asymmetry
    Purpose of the Study:

    An important attribute of the quality of accounting information is the extent to which earnings (accruals) map into cash flows. Poor mapping of accruals into cash flows reduces the information content of reported earnings and results in lower-quality earnings. If investors differ in their ability to process earnings related information, then poor earnings quality can result in differently informed investors and thereby exacerbate the information asymmetry in financial markets. Regulators and standard-setters view a reduction in information asymmetry to be an important benefit of improved earnings quality. This study examines whether poor earnings quality is associated with higher information asymmetry in capital markets.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors examined the association between earnings quality and information asymmetry during non-earnings announcement periods. Additionally, they tested whether earnings quality is associated with the increase in adverse selection risk around earnings release. The initial sample of firms tested included all NSYE and NASDAQ firms with available data on the CRSP, COMPUSTAT, and Trades and Quotes (TAQ) databases. The firm data was measured for the years 1997 through 2006. Information asymmetry was measured as reflected in the adverse selection component of the trading cost.  Descriptive statistics were used to gather empirical results.

    Findings:
    • The inverse relation between earnings quality and the increase in information asymmetry around earnings releases is observed for all measures of earnings quality.
    • The association between earnings quality and the increase in information asymmetry is more pronounced for smaller firms.
    • Managerial choices that cause accruals volatility to be too high or too low relative to industry norms increase information asymmetry.
       
    Category:
    Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent, Corporate Matters
    Sub-category:
    Earnings Targets & Management Behavior, Evaluating Accruals/Detection of Abnormal Accruals
  • Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips
    Was Dodd-Frank Justified in Exempting Small Firms from...
    research summary posted November 26, 2014 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 04.0 Independence and Ethics, 04.08 Impact of SEC Rules Changes/SarbOx, 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.06 Earnings Management, 07.0 Internal Control, 07.05 Impact of 404 on Fees and Financial Reporting Quality, 08.0 Auditing Procedures – Nature, Timing and Extent, 08.05 Evaluating Accruals/Detection of Abnormal Accruals, 08.06 Earnings Management – Detection and Response, 14.0 Corporate Matters, 14.01 Earnings Management 
    Title:
    Was Dodd-Frank Justified in Exempting Small Firms from Section 404b Compliance?
    Practical Implications:

    Our study evaluates a provision of Dodd-Frank which provided permanent exemption from Section 404b compliance to non-accelerated filers. Our results show that these small firms did not improve their reporting quality to the same extent as large firms implying that the Dodd-Frank exemption will probably serve to keep the reporting quality of the exempted firms at lower than achievable levels.

    We also note that as part of the Dodd-Frank legislation, the SEC was given a mandate to investigate raising the Section 404b exemption requirements from $75 million to $250 million in market capitalization (Dodd Frank 2010). While the SEC eventually decided to leave the exemption criterion at $75 million, this matter is still considered to be an open topic (SEC 2011). Our study informs this ongoing debate.

    For more information on this study, please contact

    Anthony D. Holder, PhD, CPA

    Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting - MS 103

    University of Toledo

    Toledo, OH 43606-3390

    Email: Anthony.Holder@utoledo.edu

    Web:    http://homepages.utoledo.edu/aholder4/

    Phone: 1.419.530.2560

    Fax: 1.419.530.2873 

    Citation:

    Holder, A., K. Karim, and A. Robin. 2013. Was Dodd-Frank Justified in Exempting Small Firms from Section 404b Compliance? Accounting Horizons 27 (1): 1-22.

    Keywords:
    Sarbanes-Oxley; Dodd-Frank; earnings management; exempt filers
    Purpose of the Study:

    A major component of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) is Section 404b, which requires auditor certification of internal controls. However, not all firms were required to comply with this section. Fearing that compliance costs may be prohibitive, SOX allowed a temporary exemption to small firms called non-accelerated filers (typically those firms with market capitalizations under $75 million). Later, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 made this exemption permanent.

    Needless to say, both 404b itself and the small-firm exemption, remain controversial. At the heart of the issue, as with any regulation, is the cost-benefit tradeoff. In this particular instance, what are the potential benefits small firms would have obtained had they been subject to SOX Section 404b? By focusing just on the costs of compliance, we may be overlooking these benefits. We consider these foregone benefits an opportunity cost.

    The purpose of our study is to estimate this opportunity cost. We estimate the benefits lost by small firms, because they were not subject to SOX Section 404b.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    Our sample contains listed firms (subject to SOX), divided into the large (accelerated) and small (non-accelerated) categories. Our data span the SOX period and are from 1995-2009. We measure reporting gains using two standard approaches, one measuring the extent of earnings management and the other measuring accrual quality.

    The reporting benefits foregone by small-firms can be understood by comparing the following two quantities:

    • Post-SOX reporting gains achieved by large firms (accelerated filers).
    • Post-SOX reporting gains achieved by small firms (non-accelerated filers). If these gains (or losses) are smaller than those achieved by large firms, we know there is an opportunity cost.
    Findings:

    We detect a significant deterioration in reporting quality for non-accelerated filers but not for accelerated filers. The result is invariant to whether we compare non-accelerated filers with all accelerated filers or only with small accelerated filers.  Our findings suggest a significant opportunity cost for the exemption. Although the consideration of the cost of Section 404b compliance is outside the scope of our study, our result concerning the opportunity cost suggests that it may have been premature to grant permanent exemption to the non-accelerated filers. This result is especially important, considering contemporaneous discussions to grant Section 404b exemption to even larger firms (up to a market capitalization of $500 million).

    Category:
    Auditing Procedures - Nature - Timing and Extent, Corporate Matters, Independence & Ethics, Internal Control, Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Sub-category:
    Earnings Management – Detection and Response, Earnings Management, Evaluating Accruals/Detection of Abnormal Accruals, Impact of 404 on Fees and Financial Reporting Quality, Impact of SEC Rules Changes/SarBox

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