Journal of Business Finance & Accounting

Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
2021-02-01
ISBN:
0306-686X

Latest documents

  • International evidence on economic policy uncertainty and asymmetric adjustment of audit pricing: Big 4 versus non‐big 4 auditors

    By investigating the association between economic policy uncertainty and audit fees using data from eight countries, this study examines whether and how Big 4 auditors reinforce their advantages over non‐Big 4 auditors through audit pricing. We find that both Big 4 and non‐Big 4 auditors reduce their audit fees when economic policy uncertainty increases. However, while non‐Big 4 auditors adjust audit pricing asymmetrically as economic policy uncertainty changes, i.e., the magnitude of decline in audit fees when economic policy uncertainty increases exceeds the magnitude of rise when economic policy uncertainty decreases, Big 4 auditors regulate their audit pricing in a symmetric manner. Further analyses reveal that: (1) the asymmetric pricing of non‐Big 4 auditors mainly exists in countries where Big 4 auditors have dominant market share, (2) Big 4 auditors provide higher‐quality audits when economic policy uncertainty increases and (3) many firms in better financial condition turn to Big 4 auditors during uncertain years. Our findings suggest that the symmetric audit pricing helps Big 4 auditors maintain a favorable position in the audit market.

  • Product market competition and earnings management: A firm‐level analysis

    In this paper, we employ a firm‐level measure of product market competition constructed from the textual analysis of firms’ 10‐K filings to examine the relationship between managers’ perceived competition pressure and earnings management. We find that accounting irregularities and accrual‐based earnings management are positively related to product market competition. This finding is consistent with the notion that competition pressure increases managerial incentives to manage earnings, due to their career concerns. We also find that real earnings management is negatively related to product market competition. This finding suggests that real earnings management involves actions that decrease firms’ competitiveness and thus is costly for firms confronted with high competition pressure.

  • On the persistence and dynamics of Big 4 real audit fees: Evidence from the UK

    Despite the huge audit pricing literature, there is a dearth of evidence on the temporal dynamics of audit fee adjustments and the persistence of audit fees. Based on a sample of 76,867 panel observations for a sample of UK companies audited by the Big 4 over the period 1998 to 2012, we employ consistent lagged dependent variable panel estimators to provide new evidence on the persistence and dynamics of real Big 4 audit fees. Contrary to extant research, which assumes that audit fees adjust immediately in a single period, our empirical results indicate that Big 4 real audit fees are persistent, being partly dependent on their previous realisations. We conclude that static audit fee models omit a potentially important temporal dimension of audit pricing behaviour and that further research is warranted into dynamic audit fee models across other jurisdictions.

  • Economic consequences of implementing and communicating value based management systems

    We study the consequences of implementing and communicating Value Based Management (VBM) systems on information asymmetries and the cost of capital. We analyse the firms’ reporting on internal control systems as the source of information for market participants. In addition, literature posits that improving communications with shareholders by providing additional information on value generation (Value Based Reporting, VBR) is an integral part of implementing VBM. We find that the implementation of VBM and the extent of VBR are, both individually and jointly, significantly related to lower information asymmetries and lower cost of capital. We find a slight moderation of the effect of VBM by VBR. For increasing VBR, we find that information asymmetries and cost of capital decrease more strongly for firms without implemented VBM systems. This indicates that VBR can to some extent substitute VBM. Overall, however, firms using a combination of VBM and VBR attain lower levels of information asymmetry and cost of capital. We provide evidence for the real effects of disclosure, suggesting that disclosures on internal control systems serve as a governance mechanism, reducing information asymmetries and the cost of capital by aligning shareholders’ and managers’ interests.

  • What is a fair amount of executive compensation? Outrage potential of two key stakeholder groups

    The public discussion of executive compensation often centres on ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ amounts and the public outrage over compensation that is deemed too high. The academic literature states that such outrage can lead to outrage costs, pressuring firms to adjust compensation levels. However, it is unclear what a ‘fair’ compensation is for various stakeholders and how their fairness concerns relate to outrage constraints. Based on surveys among two key stakeholder groups (representative eligible voters and investment professionals), we provide evidence that fairness is an important criterion for both groups but that opinions on how large a fair compensation amount should be are widely dispersed. Moreover, personality traits systematically influence fairness opinions through self‐serving interpretations of distributive justice and personal risk attitudes, indicating that a ‘fair’ amount of executive compensation may strongly depend on the involved stakeholders. Investigating thresholds for outrage, i.e., amounts above which compensation is judged ‘unfairly’ high, we show that even though investment professionals care for fairness as well, ‘capital market outrage’ might not equate to ‘public outrage’. Our paper contributes to the literature on outrage constraints by linking individual fairness concerns to outrage potential and has implications for transparency of executive compensation and research on shareholder activism.

  • Internal capital market efficiency and the diversification discount: The role of financial statement comparability

    This paper investigates how financial statement comparability affects the efficiency of internal capital markets and diversification discounts in multi‐segment firms through monitoring mechanisms. Previous studies suggest that financial statement comparability improves transparency and reduces the cost of information processing, mitigating information asymmetry between managers and shareholders. Using measures of comparability and internal capital efficiency, we find that financial statement comparability has a strong positive influence on internal capital market efficiency. Further, we find that by improving the efficiency of internal capital markets, financial statement comparability indeed mitigates diversification discounts. Especially, the effect of financial statement comparability is more pronounced for firms with high information asymmetry or operating environment volatility. The results support our arguments that financial statement comparability enhances the efficiency of internal capital markets and increases firm value in diversified firms by mitigating agency problems via monitoring and corporate control mechanisms.

  • Do banks care about analysts' forecasts when designing loan contracts?

    We investigate whether banks rely on the information content in equity analysts’ annual earnings forecasts when assessing the risk of potential borrowers. While a long literature finds that analysts provide useful information to market participants, it is not clear that banks, which have access to privileged information, would benefit from publicly available analysts’ forecasts. If, however, banks do rely on this information, then more precise private information in earnings forecasts may inform banks. We focus our analysis on the requirement of collateral because it is a direct measure of default risk, whereas other loan terms such as interest spread and debt covenants can also protect against other risks, such as asset misappropriation. The direct link between collateral and default risk allows us to examine whether information from analysts is relevant to banks when designing loan contracts. Consistent with our predictions, we find that higher precision of the private information in analysts’ earnings forecasts is associated with a lower likelihood of requiring collateral, and this effect is larger when a borrower does not have a prior relationship with the lender or their accounting or credit quality is low. We also find that this association disappears after the implementation of Regulation FD, consistent with this regulation reducing analysts’ access to private information.

  • Issue Information
  • Shareholder coordination and stock price informativeness

    We show that firm‐specific information is more likely to be incorporated into stock prices when firms have stronger shareholder coordination. The premise of our work is that geographic proximity reduces communication costs among shareholders, thereby leading to better coordination. The positive coordination‐informativeness relation is driven mainly by shareholder coordination among dedicated and independent institutions. We further show that the positive effect is more pronounced for firms with weaker governance mechanisms, suggesting that shareholder coordination could serve as a substitute conduit of price discovery. Lastly, we propose that shareholder coordination improves stock price informativeness through the channel of enhanced voluntary disclosure quality.

  • The pricing of firms with expected losses/profits: The role of January

    We examine the role of January in the relation between expected losses/profits and future stock returns. We predict and find that the relation between expected losses/profits and future returns reverses from the usual positive relation in non‐January months to a negative one in January. The reverse January relation is consistent across sample years, is observed in the United States and international markets, and is incremental to other variables associated with January returns. At least part of the reverse January relation is explained by tax‐loss selling. Further analysis shows that the reverse January relation results in a temporary price drift away from fundamental value. In other words, we find that abnormal positive (negative) future returns do not always indicate past under(over)valuation. Overall, our results illustrate the importance of controlling for the effect of January when examining how investors price expected losses/profits.

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