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Accounting choice and future performance: The case of R&D accounting in France

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  • Cazavan-Jeny, Anne
  • Jeanjean, Thomas
  • Joos, Peter

Abstract

We examine whether managers' decisions to capitalize or expense R&D expenditures convey information about the future performance of the firm. Focusing on a French setting where managers can choose to capitalize R&D expenditures under certain circumstances, we find that, after controlling for industry effects, firms that capitalize R&D expenditures spend less on R&D, have more volatile R&D efforts, and are smaller and more leveraged than firms that expense R&D expenditures. We also find that capitalizers capitalize R&D outlays when they need to meet or beat thresholds. Finally, we show that the decision to capitalize R&D is generally associated with a negative or neutral impact on future performance, even after controlling for self-selection. Our results also show that when firms both capitalize and expense R&D expenditures, the expensed portion exhibits a stronger (and negative) relationship with future performance. Market-based tests corroborate these findings. While we cannot unambiguously establish whether our findings imply that management uses R&D capitalization to manage earnings or because it is unable to estimate the earning power of R&D projects, our results suggest that management is unable to truthfully convey information about future performance through its decision to capitalize R&D. Our findings, based on real data as opposed to simulated data, therefore contrast with previous supportive evidence in favor of capitalization in the literature.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Accounting and Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 145-165

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jappol:v:30:y::i:2:p:145-165

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jaccpubpol

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Cited by:
  1. Shah, Syed Zulfiqar Ali & Liang, Shuang & Akbar, Saeed, 2013. "International Financial Reporting Standards and the value relevance of R&D expenditures: Pre and post IFRS analysis," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 158-169.
  2. Guillaume Dumas, 2012. "Le Comportement Myopique D'Investissement En R&D : Une Realite En France ?," Post-Print hal-00690955, HAL.

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