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Article
Publication date: 19 July 2011

Salma Ibrahim, Li Xu and Genese Rogers

Prior research suggests that firms manipulate earnings through accruals to achieve certain reporting objectives. Recently, especially following the Sarbanes‐Oxley (SarbOx…

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3301

Abstract

Purpose

Prior research suggests that firms manipulate earnings through accruals to achieve certain reporting objectives. Recently, especially following the Sarbanes‐Oxley (SarbOx) Act, researchers have turned their attention to real account manipulation as an alternative. However, there is no evidence on whether the likelihood of being detected by outsiders is different for firms using these alternative manipulation methods. The purpose of this paper is to examine this research question in the context of seasoned equity offerings (SEOs).

Design/methodology/approach

First, the authors compare SEOs to a matched sample of non‐SEOs to document income‐increasing manipulation. Next, they identify SEOs that prompt lawsuits and compare sued and non‐sued firms to determine whether using a particular method of manipulation is more likely to be detected and associated with litigation.

Findings

The authors find evidence of income‐increasing accrual and real manipulation for SEOs in the year prior to the offering in the pre‐SarbOx period, and find some evidence of a shift to real account manipulation post‐SarbOx. The authors examine the subsequent litigation pattern of these SEOs, and find that firms that are subsequently sued have a higher prevalence of income‐increasing discretionary accruals when the lawsuit allegations involve accounting issues. Following SarbOx, investors are paying less attention to accrual manipulation through accounts receivable and there is more scrutiny of real account manipulation.

Originality/value

The implication in this paper is that firms that engage in income‐increasing earnings management are more likely to be sued when they engage in accrual manipulation while other forms of manipulation may be less understood. This finding is important to investors and regulators.

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Article
Publication date: 6 November 2017

Talie Kassamany, Salma Ibrahim and Stuart Archbold

This study aims to investigate the occurrence of pre-merger earnings management for a sample of 197 stock- and cash-financed UK acquirers between 1990 and 2009. It also…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the occurrence of pre-merger earnings management for a sample of 197 stock- and cash-financed UK acquirers between 1990 and 2009. It also examines the earnings management behaviour around the change in the Corporate Governance Code in 2003 based on the Higgs recommendations.

Design/methodology/approach

Mean and median accrual- and real-based manipulation are examined in the period before the announcement of a merger and acquisition. These are compared across stock and cash acquirers as well as before and after the implementation of the Higgs recommendations. Logistic regressions are also run to examine accrual- and real-based manipulation across stock and cash acquirers after controlling for variables that may affect the acquisition type.

Findings

The study found some evidence of upward pre-merger accrual-based earnings management by stock-financed acquirers, which is in line with the findings of Botsari and Meeks (2008). Furthermore, no significant changes were found in the post-Higgs period, which indicates that the recommendations put forth by Higgs may not have been successful in mitigating earnings management. The evidence also shows that cash bidders engage in pre-merger real earnings manipulation through lower discretionary expenses, possibly to enhance cash availability for the bid.

Practical implications

The findings in this study confirm earnings management exists around mergers and acquisitions and provide some evidence that the recommendations set out in the Higgs Report do not appear to have mitigated earnings management activities. This is of interest to regulators as well as investors and academicians.

Originality/value

This provides the first analysis in the UK examining the use of real-based earnings management activities by UK acquirers. It also extends prior research around corporate governance changes that occurred in the UK.

Details

Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1832-5912

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2004

Hervé Stolowy and Gaétan Breton

Accounts manipulation has been the subject of research, discussion and even controversy in several countries including the USA, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Finland and…

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3968

Abstract

Accounts manipulation has been the subject of research, discussion and even controversy in several countries including the USA, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Finland and France. The objective of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review of the literature and propose a conceptual framework for accounts manipulation. This framework is based on the possibility of wealth transfer between the different stake‐holders, and in practice, the target of the manipulation appears generally to be the earnings per share and the debt/equity ratio. The paper also describes the different actors involved and their potential gains and losses. We review the literature on the various techniques of accounts manipulation: earnings management, income smoothing, big bath accounting, creative accounting, and window‐dressing. The various definitions of all these, the main motivations behind their application and the research methodologies used are all examined. This study reveals that all the above techniques have common elements, but there are also important differences between them.

Details

Review of Accounting and Finance, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-7702

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2017

Javeria Farooqi, Thanh Ngo and Surendranath Jory

This study aims to examine the ability of investors to process signs of real activities manipulations at bidder firms in the quarters leading to the announcement of a…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the ability of investors to process signs of real activities manipulations at bidder firms in the quarters leading to the announcement of a merger. It further provides a supplementary explanation for the post-merger underperformance puzzle.

Design/methodology/approach

Examining a sample of cash-only, stock swap and mixed mergers completed between 1980 and 2011, it was found that bidder firms increase the use of real activities manipulation in the quarters leading up to the merger announcements. Using average abnormal stock return method, it is shown that the short-term positive effect of real activities manipulation on share prices is stronger than accrual-based earnings management.

Findings

While bidders are able to escape investors’ scrutiny in the short run, it is not the case in the long run. It was found that bidders’ long-run stock performance, measured by matched buy-and-hold stock returns, is inversely related to their pre-announcement level of earnings management. This paper contributes to the literature on earnings management by considering how real activities manipulations affect stock prices in mergers and acquisitions.

Originality/value

This study tests whether real activities manipulation, in addition to accrual-based earnings management, explains the underperformance puzzle of the acquiring firms in M&As. Zang (2012) argues that there is a greater likelihood for firms to engage in real activities manipulation, especially when firms are constrained in their use of accrual-based earnings management owing to heightened scrutiny or overuse in prior years.

Details

Review of Accounting and Finance, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-7702

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Hamadi Matoussi and Mohamed Chakib Kolsi

In response to recent financial corporate scandals, this study aims to provide a helpful understanding for investors and accounting regulators on how firms manage their…

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1100

Abstract

Purpose

In response to recent financial corporate scandals, this study aims to provide a helpful understanding for investors and accounting regulators on how firms manage their reported earnings. This leads to a better firm valuation by financial intermediaries and more useful accounting standards.

Design/methodology/approach

Estimating discretionary accruals and opportunistic special purpose entities and using a simultaneous equation approach, the aim is to check how managers trade off between such tools of earnings management. Based on real earnings manipulation and accruals management of earnings, the goal is to understand if such tools are used simultaneously or as substitute by firms.

Findings

After controlling for each cost determinants of such earnings management tool, firms use discretionary accruals and financial engineering with special purpose entities as substitutes. Additional analyses show that managers use such tools in a sequential process. Indeed, they first use special purpose entities during the course of the year but they manipulate discretionary accruals especially at the end of the year.

Research limitations/implications

Despite sensitivity checks, measurement error in discretionary accruals proxy and opportunistic SPE estimation model remains an alternative explanation for the results. The sample size and the lack of accurate information about the size of special purpose entities may limit the extent of the findings.

Practical implications

It is a very useful tool for regulators when they plan to disclose new accounting standards. For investors, this study can help them in assessing the firm's value more accurately for investing and financing purposes.

Originality/value

Providing a new methodology and new models to detect pervasive earnings management strategies adopted by firms.

Details

Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1401-338X

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Article
Publication date: 16 March 2015

Mahdi Moradi, Mahdi Salehi and Mohammad Zamanirad

– The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effect of managers’ incentive bonuses on both accrual and real earnings management.

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1790

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effect of managers’ incentive bonuses on both accrual and real earnings management.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the authors investigate the relationship between managers’ bonuses and both accrual earnings management (measured by a modified Jones model) and real earnings management (measured by Roychowdhury proxies). Next, the authors examine whether management has any preferences for earnings management methods to enhance its bonuses. Finally, the authors investigate the possible effects of earnings management on future operating performance. The sample consists of compositional data in the period from 2006 to 2012.

Findings

The authors find a negative relationship between real earnings management and managers’ bonuses and detect that managers prefer to use accrual earnings management to earn more bonuses. The results also show that real earnings management will reduce a firm’s performance in future periods, and on the other hand that increasing managers’ bonuses links to improvement of the firm’s future performance. The results suggest that managers are typically aware of the negative effects of real earnings management on the firm’s future performance and thus prefer to improve the firm’s performance in securing their bonuses when their ability to manage accruals is constrained.

Originality/value

The implications of this paper provide further evidence on how managers’ bonuses affect their discretion in using accrual and real earnings management. This finding is important to investors and regulators.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 53 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 6 December 2019

Bing Luo

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the association between managers’ short-term, quarterly earnings forecast characteristics and earnings management through real…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the association between managers’ short-term, quarterly earnings forecast characteristics and earnings management through real activities manipulation.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a propensity-score matched sample from 2000 to 2015, the author examines whether, compared to non-issuers, firms issuing short-term earnings forecasts exhibit abnormal levels of earnings management through the manipulation of real activities such as acceleration of sales, changes in shipment schedules and delaying R&D and maintenance expenditures.

Findings

The finding of this study suggests that firms actually engage in less real activities manipulation when they provide short-term management earnings forecasts. This result does not support the practitioners’ criticism that providing short-term management earnings forecasts increases earnings management. Instead, it suggests that providing management earnings forecasts can reduce information asymmetry between managers and external shareholders, thereby constraining managers’ opportunistic behaviors.

Originality/value

Practitioners have expressed concerns that issuing earnings forecasts may foster managerial myopia, therefore, increasing earnings management. However, recent empirical study found evidence that management earnings forecast mitigates accrual-based earnings management, which is inconsistent with practitioners’ view. This study hence aims to provide timely evidence to this debate by examining the relation between management earnings forecasts and real activities manipulation.

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Article
Publication date: 21 September 2011

Dalia Marciukaityte and Samuel H. Szewczyk

We examine whether discretionary accruals of firms obtaining substantial external financing can be explained by managerial manipulation or managerial overoptimism. Insider…

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1207

Abstract

We examine whether discretionary accruals of firms obtaining substantial external financing can be explained by managerial manipulation or managerial overoptimism. Insider trading patterns and press releases around equity and debt financing suggest that managers are more optimistic about their firms around debt financing. Consistent with earlier studies, we find that discretionary current accruals peak when firms obtain equity financing. However, we also find that discretionary accruals peak when firms obtain debt financing. Moreover, discretionary accruals are higher for firms that rely on debt rather than on equity financing. The results are robust to controlling for firm characteristics, excluding small and distressed firms, and using alternative measures of discretionary accruals. These findings support the hypothesis that managerial overoptimism distorts financial statements of firms obtaining external financing.

Details

Review of Behavioural Finance, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1940-5979

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Article
Publication date: 20 December 2017

Feng Jui Hsu and Yu-Cheng Chen

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships among corporate social responsibility (CSR), analyst forecast accuracy and firms’ earnings management…

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1201

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships among corporate social responsibility (CSR), analyst forecast accuracy and firms’ earnings management behavior using US-based firms.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use the Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini (KLD) database to construct CSR performance scores and divide all firms into ten groups from high to low as a proxy for CSR performance. The authors obtained an initial sample of 33,364 firm-year observations from 1991 to 2012. Filtering for records which exist in the KLD, Compustat, and Center for Research in Security Prices databases lefts a total of 16,807 firm-year observations and CSR evaluation reports for 5,896 firms.

Findings

The authors find that high CSR-score firms have lower rates of analyst forecast error than their low CSR-score counterparts, suggesting that CSR performance is a useful means of forecasting earnings. Furthermore, firms with better CSR performance have significantly lower accrual-based earnings management behavior. However, the level of the manipulation behavior of real earnings management (REM) activities increased significantly in better CSR firms, suggesting that high CSR-score firms substituted REM methods for accrual-based methods. REM methods are consistent with the stipulations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and allow high CSR-score firms to better manipulate earnings behavior. These results hold after the authors control for various factors related to firm financial characteristics.

Originality/value

Overall, the findings have important implications for investors and regulators to more easily assess firms’ earnings manipulation behavior and earnings stability under CSR performance and financial information in financial markets.

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Mohammad Alhadab and Thang Nguyen

This study aims to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and real and accrual earnings management, using a sample of 5,659 US firm-year…

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1123

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and real and accrual earnings management, using a sample of 5,659 US firm-year observations for 1,221 firms covering the period from 2001 to 2012.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use various techniques and regressions to test the hypotheses. Following prior research, several proxies have been used to measure diversification, accrual earnings management and real earnings management.

Findings

The study produces several important findings. First, the study provides evidence that diversified firms engage in real and accrual earnings management to manage their reported earnings upward. These results are consistent with recent research (Farooqi et al., 2014; Jirapon et al., 2008) that finds that diversified firms engage in earnings manipulation. Second, and most importantly, the study contributes to the literature by providing the first evidence on a non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and earnings management. Specifically, the study provides evidence that diversified firms engage in accrual (real) earnings management, but this engagement is associated with level of diversification in a non-linear U-shaped (inverted U-shaped) relationship.

Research limitations/implications

Like all other studies, the current study has some limitations. The study was conducted only on the largest firms in the USA that have market capitalization of more than US$10m; hence, the findings may not be generalizable to small publicly traded firms. Further, the findings may not be generalizable to other markets, given the unique characteristics of US markets such as the presence of very sophisticated investors.

Practical implications

This study provides some important implications for US regulators to revise their regulations to prevent diversified firms from using earnings management to manipulate reported earnings.

Originality/value

This study is the first in the USA to examine the non-linear relationship between corporate diversification and earnings management. The study focuses on one of the most active, most attractive and largest capital markets throughout the world, that of the USA. Also, this study is one of the few studies that examine whether diversified firms use real activities manipulation to manage their reported earnings.

Details

Review of Accounting and Finance, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-7702

Keywords

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