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Fair value accounting impact on decision-usefulness of accounting information: evidence from accounting standards update 2016–01 on the US insurance industry

Scott McGregor (Department of Accounting, Tax and Law, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, USA)

Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting

ISSN: 1985-2517

Article publication date: 9 August 2021

Issue publication date: 12 December 2022

264

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of ASU 2016–01 on the predictive value, the confirmatory value and the value relevance of earnings. One of the key provisions of ASU 2016–01 is the requirement that all changes in unrealized gains and losses on all equity securities are recognized in income instead of other comprehensive income (OCI) as under prior guidance (SFAS 115). Because many companies in the insurance industry are large holders of equity securities, the sample for this study consists of firms from the insurance industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The author compares the change in earnings volatility and analysts’ forecast error for the periods before and after adoption of ASU 2016–01, and the relationship between the percentages of assets invested in equity securities for both earnings volatility and analysts’ forecast error. Further, the author tests the price reaction at the time of the release of earnings using an event study. The author also tests the value reliance of earnings measured by the correlation of earnings and stock prices, as well as the change in earnings and stock returns. The association between investment gain/loss components of earnings, and OCI, with stock prices and returns is tested for value relevance.

Findings

The findings of this study show that earnings volatility and analysts’ forecast errors increased in the period after adopting ASU 2016–01 and an initial overreaction to earnings releases. Further, the investment gain/loss components of earnings and OCI are not value-relevant in this study and including unrealized gains/losses on equity securities in income decreased value relevance of earnings in the post-adoption period, particularly for firms with large equity investment portfolios.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited to one industry and only represents the impact of ASU 2016–01 on that industry. Thus, there are opportunities to extend the research to other industries. Furthermore, the time-period of study since adopting ASU 2016–01 is limited to only two years and with the passage of time, a greater sample of post-ASU 2016–01 will be available for testing.

Practical implications

Standard setters considering recognizing fair value changes on all investment securities in income should consider the findings of this study. Further, industry participants affected by ASU 2016–01 should consider improving explanation of earnings to mitigate the initial misunderstanding of earning announcements found in this study.

Originality/value

To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first study on the effects of ASU 2016–01 on volatility of earnings, earnings forecast errors, market reactions to earnings releases and the value relevance of earnings. This paper fills a gap in prior research by studying the effects of fair value on reported earnings, which is limited in prior research. This study contributes to the growing field of research on fair value accounting.

Keywords

Citation

McGregor, S. (2022), "Fair value accounting impact on decision-usefulness of accounting information: evidence from accounting standards update 2016–01 on the US insurance industry", Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 926-952. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFRA-12-2020-0352

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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