The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of management’s choice of forecast precision on the subsequent dispersion and accuracy of analysts’ earnings forecasts.
Using a sample of 3,584 yearly management earnings per share (EPS) forecasts and 10,287 quarterly management EPS forecasts made during the period of 2002-2007 and collected from the First Call database, the authors controlled for factors previously found to impact analysts’ forecast accuracy and dispersion and investigate the link between management forecast precision and attributes of the analysts’ forecasts.
Results provide empirical evidence that managements’ disclosure precision has a statistically significant impact on both the dispersion and the accuracy of subsequent analysts’ forecasts. It was found that the dispersion in analysts’ forecasts is negatively related to the management forecast precision. In other words, a precise management forecast is associated with a smaller dispersion in the subsequent analysts’ forecasts. Evidence consistent with accuracy in subsequent analysts’ forecasts being positively associated with the precision in the management forecast was also found. When the present analysis focuses on range forecasts provided by management, it was found that lower precision (a larger range) is associated with a larger dispersion among analysts and larger forecast errors.
Evidence suggests a consistency in inferences across both annual and quarterly earnings forecasts by management. Accordingly, recent calls to eliminate earnings guidance through short-term quarterly management forecasts may have failed to consider the linkage between the attributes (precision) of those forecasts and the dispersion and accuracy in subsequent analysts’ forecasts.
This study contributes to the literature on both management earnings forecasts and analysts’ earnings forecasts. The results assist in policy deliberations related to calls to eliminate short-term management earnings guidance.
The authors appreciate comments provided by participants at 2010 AAA Region Meeting in Columbus, OH, in Philadelphia, PA, and in Mobile, AL where earlier versions of this paper was presented.
Chi, Y.-H. and A. Ziebart, D. (2014), "Benefits of management disclosure precision on analysts’ forecasts", Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 371-399. https://doi.org/10.1108/RAF-06-2012-0061
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