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The role of accruals as a signal in earnings and dividend announcements : New Zealand evidence

Hardjo Koerniadi (Department of Finance, Faculty of Business and Law, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Alireza Tourani‐Rad (Department of Finance, Faculty of Business and Law, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Applied Accounting Research

ISSN: 0967-5426

Article publication date: 13 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine whether managers deliberately use accruals to convey information regarding firm future profitability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses contemporaneous earnings and dividend increase announcements in New Zealand as the research setting. This setting reduces the possibility of opportunistic income smoothing by managers and, hence, increases the validity of the inference on the accrual signaling hypothesis. The paper employs a refined accrual model that controls the performance effects in estimating the part of accruals subject to managerial discretion.

Findings

The paper finds evidence consistent with managers using both accruals and changes in dividends to communicate private information regarding firm future profitability to the market. In particular, dividend‐increasing firms are observed to report positive accruals that are correlated with the positive market reaction to dividend increase announcements and future profitability. These findings are robust to performance, growth, and post‐earnings announcement drift effects.

Originality/value

This paper provides evidence that managers use accruals in conjunction with a corporate event to convey their private information regarding firm profitability. The results of the study are expected to shed more light on signaling aspects of accruals and to some degree alleviate the negative perception of managerial discretions over accruals vastly documented in the earnings management literature. This will hopefully add supporting evidence to the signaling hypothesis of accruals, which has so far received limited attention in the literature.

Keywords

Citation

Koerniadi, H. and Tourani‐Rad, A. (2011), "The role of accruals as a signal in earnings and dividend announcements : New Zealand evidence", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 108-122. https://doi.org/10.1108/09675421111160682

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited