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Agency Theory of Overvalued Equity as an Explanation for the Accrual Anomaly

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  • Kothari, S.P.
  • Loutskina, E.
  • Nikolaev, V.

    (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)

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    Abstract

    We show that the agency theory of overvalued equity (see Jensen, 2005) rather than investors' fixation on accruals explains the accrual anomaly, i.e., abnormal returns to an accrual trading strategy (see Sloan, 1996).Under the agency theory of overvalued equity, managers of overvalued firms are likely to manage their firms' accruals upwards to prolong the overvaluation.Thus, high-accrual portfolios are likely to be over-represented with over-valued firms.Overvaluation, however, cannot be sustained indefinitely and we expect price reversals for high accrual firms.In contrast, undervalued firms do not face incentives to report low accruals, so undervalued firms are not concentrated in low accrual decile portfolios.Therefore, across the accrual decile portfolios, we predict and find an asymmetric relation between accruals and both prior and subsequent returns.In addition, consistent with the predictions of the agency theory of overvalued equity, we find high, but not low, accrual firms' investment-financing decisions and insider trading activity are distorted, and analyst forecast optimism is concentrated among the high-accrual decile portfolios.Overall, return behavior, analyst optimism, investment-financing decisions, and insider trading activity are all consistent with the agency theory of overvalued equity, but do not support investor fixation on accruals.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2006-103.

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    Date of creation: 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubcen:2006103

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    Keywords: accrual anomaly; earnings management; agency theory of overvalued equity;

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    Cited by:
    1. Datta, Sudip & Iskandar-Datta, Mai & Singh, Vivek, 2013. "Product market power, industry structure, and corporate earnings management," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 3273-3285.
    2. Martijn Cremers & Ankur Pareek, 2009. "Institutional Investors’ Investment Durations and Stock Return Anomalies: Momentum, Reversal, Accruals, Share Issuance and R&D Increases," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2662, Yale School of Management, revised 04 Sep 2009.
    3. Carlos J. Trejo-Pech & Richard N. Weldon & Lisa A. House & Michael A. Gunderson, 2009. "The accrual anomaly financial problem in the food supply chain," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 520-533.
    4. Marciukaityte, Dalia & Varma, Raj, 2008. "Consequences of overvalued equity: Evidence from earnings manipulation," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 418-430, September.
    5. Chi, Jianxin (Daniel) & Gupta, Manu, 2009. "Overvaluation and earnings management," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1652-1663, September.

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