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The "q"-Theory Approach to Understanding the Accrual Anomaly

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  • JIN (GINGER) WU
  • LU ZHANG
  • X. FRANK ZHANG
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Interpreting accruals as working capital investment, we hypothesize based on "q"-theory that firms optimally adjust their accruals in response to discount rate changes. A higher discount rate means less profitable investments and lower accruals, and a lower discount rate means more profitable investments and higher accruals. Our evidence supports this optimal investment hypothesis: (1) adding an investment factor into standard factor regressions substantially reduces the magnitude of the accrual anomaly, often to insignificant levels; (2) accruals covary negatively with discount rate estimates from the dividend discounting model, and for the most part, with estimates from the residual income model; (3) accruals with low accounting reliability covary more with capital investment than accruals with high accounting reliability; and (iv) expected returns to accruals-based trading strategies are time-varying, suggesting that the deterioration of the accrual effect in recent years might be temporary and likely to mean-revert in the near future. Copyright (c), University of Chicago on behalf of the Accounting Research Center, 2009.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Accounting Research.

Volume (Year): 48 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 177-223

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Handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:48:y:2010:i:1:p:177-223

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Cited by:
  1. Cooper, Ilan & Priestley, Richard, 2011. "Real investment and risk dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 182-205, July.
  2. Kewei Hou & Chen Xue & Lu Zhang, 2012. "Digesting Anomalies: An Investment Approach," NBER Working Papers 18435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richardson, Scott & Tuna, Irem & Wysocki, Peter, 2010. "Accounting anomalies and fundamental analysis: A review of recent research advances," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 410-454, December.
  4. Dichev, Ilia D. & Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R. & Rajgopal, Shiva, 2013. "Earnings quality: Evidence from the field," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 1-33.
  5. Watanabe, Akiko & Xu, Yan & Yao, Tong & Yu, Tong, 2013. "The asset growth effect: Insights from international equity markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 529-563.
  6. Donglin Li, 2014. "Dissecting and connecting the growth and accounting distortion components of accruals," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-28, January.
  7. Christian Calmès & Denis Cormier & Francois Éric Racicot & Raymond Théoret, 2012. "Firms' Accruals and Tobin’s q," RePAd Working Paper Series UQO-DSA-wp032012, Département des sciences administratives, UQO.
  8. Allen, Eric J. & Larson, Chad R. & Sloan, Richard G., 2013. "Accrual reversals, earnings and stock returns," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 113-129.
  9. Lin, Xiaoji & Zhang, Lu, 2011. "Covariances versus Characteristics in General Equilibrium," Working Paper Series 2011-15, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  10. Lewellen, Jonathan, 2010. "Accounting anomalies and fundamental analysis: An alternative view," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 455-466, December.
  11. Wu, Jin (Ginger) & Zhang, Lu, 2010. "Does Risk Explain Anomalies? Evidence from Expected Return Estimates," Working Paper Series 2010-18, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  12. Jones, Christopher S. & Tuzel, Selale, 2013. "Inventory investment and the cost of capital," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 557-579.
  13. Li, Dongmei & Zhang, Lu, 2010. "Does q-theory with investment frictions explain anomalies in the cross section of returns?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 297-314, November.
  14. Norio Kitagawa & Akinobu Shuto, 2013. "Credibility of Management Earnings Forecasts and Future Returns," Discussion Paper Series DP2013-30, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  15. Lin, Xiaoji & Zhang, Lu, 2013. "The investment manifesto," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 351-366.

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