Thursday, December 11, 2014

Can you Believe it? Managerial Discretion and Financial Analysts’ Responses to Management Earnings Forecasts

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Finance and Strategy (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 31) (2014) 103-143

Financial analysts act as crucial conduits of information between firms and stakeholders. However, comparatively little is known about how these information intermediaries evaluate the believability and importance of corporate disclosures. We argue that a firm’s level of managerial discretion, or latitude of executive action, acts as a cue for financial analysts, which helps them interpret and respond to voluntary management earnings forecasts. Our study provides strong, robust evidence that financial analysts find management forecasts significantly less believable in low-discretion than in high-discretion environments, and therefore tend to be much less responsive to these forecasts. We also show that managerial discretion is especially impactful on analysts’ responses in those circumstances where analysts are typically most uncertain about how to interpret management forecasts.