This paper investigates the use of graphs, selection of variables to graph and construction of graphs in prospectuses issued by Australian companies making their initial public offering (IPO) of shares to the Australian capital market. The paper formulates and tests hypotheses concerning selectivity in the use of graphs and distortion in the construction of graphs presented in IPO prospectuses, as well as providing descriptive evidence about the use of graphs in such prospectuses. Results show that firms enjoying improving profit performance are significantly more likely to include graphs of key financial variables in their prospectuses than firms suffering deteriorating profit performance. Thus, similar to studies of graphs in annual reports, evidence of selectivity in the inclusion of graphs is found. No significant relationship is found between performance on the variable being graphed and distortion in the construction of the graph. When the graphs are split between those covering key financial variables and other variables, a significant relationship is found in both categories. For graphs of other variables, a significant positive association is found between performance and distortion. However, the relationship for key financial variables is in the opposite direction to that suggested by impression management. Further analysis identifies significant sub‐period differences in selectivity and distortion which are consistent with the view that the major regulatory and institutional changes outlined in the paper, reduced the extent of selectivity and graphical distortion in the post‐1991 period. As far as we are aware, this is the first study reported in the literature to investigate the use of graphs in prospectuses. The results also have policy implications for the regulatory authority in Australia.
Mather, P., Ramsay, A. and Steen, A. (2000), "The use and representational faithfulness of graphs in Australian IPO prospectuses", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 65-83. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513570010316144
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