The impact of earnings extremity on information content of cash flow

Wael Mostafa (Department of Accounting, College of Business Administration, University of Bahrain, Sakhir, Bahrain)
Rob Dixon (Durham Business School, University of Durham, Durham, UK)

Review of Accounting and Finance

ISSN: 1475-7702

Publication date: 15 February 2013

Abstract

Purpose

In contrast to recent US studies, almost all prior UK studies have not supported the incremental information content of cash flow beyond earnings. In addition, to date no UK study has addressed the effect of earnings extremity on the incremental information content of cash flow and earnings whilst controlling for the extremity of cash flow. Therefore, and in order to assess the generality of recent US findings, the aim of this study is to examine the incremental information content of cash flow from operations and earnings and the effect of extreme earnings on the incremental information content of cash flow from operations in the UK firms.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on market‐based accounting research, this study uses statistical associations between accounting data (earnings and cash flow) and stock returns to assess/measure the incremental information content (value relevance) of cash flow and earnings and the effect of extreme earnings on the incremental information content of cash flow and earnings. The paper follows the recent methodology in this area that employs the level and change of cash flow and earnings as an estimation of their unexpected components and isolates the extreme cash flow and earnings apart from the moderate ones.

Findings

The results show that both earnings and cash flow from operations have incremental information content beyond each other. It is also found that extreme earnings lead to incremental information content for only moderate (not extreme) cash flow. These results are consistent with the findings of the recent US studies.

Practical implications

Overall, the findings of this study support the usefulness of using cash flow information, in addition to earnings in firm valuation by investors in the UK market, especially when earnings are extreme and cash flow is moderate. The accounting interpretation of these results, in terms of disclosure of earnings components, is discussed.

Originality/value

The study makes the following contributions to the incremental information content of cash flow and earnings literature in the UK. First, this study employs actual cash flow data derived from cash flow statements. Second, none of the prior UK studies shares the current research focus, which is to examine the effect of earnings extremity on the incremental information content of cash flow and earnings whilst controlling for the extremity of cash flow itself. Third, this study employs a large sample size for a more recent period.

Keywords

Citation

Mostafa, W. and Dixon, R. (2013), "The impact of earnings extremity on information content of cash flow", Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 81-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/14757701311295845

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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