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Ratings Changes, Ratings Levels, and the Predictive Value of Analysts' Recommendations


  • Brad M. Barber
  • Reuven Lehavy
  • Brett Trueman


"We show that abnormal returns to analysts' recommendations stem from both the ratings levels assigned and the changes in those ratings. Conditional on the ratings change, buy and strong buy recommendations have greater returns than do holds, sells, and strong sells. Conditional on the ratings level, upgrades earn the highest returns and downgrades the lowest. We also find that both ratings levels and changes predict future unexpected earnings and the associated market reaction. Our results imply that 1) investment returns may be enhanced by conditioning on both recommendation levels and changes; 2) the predictive power of analysts' recommendations reflects, at least partially, analysts' ability to generate valuable private information; and 3) some inconsistency exists between analysts' ratings and the formal ratings definitions issued by securities firms." Copyright (c) 2010 Financial Management Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Brad M. Barber & Reuven Lehavy & Brett Trueman, 2010. "Ratings Changes, Ratings Levels, and the Predictive Value of Analysts' Recommendations," Financial Management, Financial Management Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 533-553, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:finmgt:v:39:y:2010:i:2:p:533-553

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    2. Kucheev, Yury O. & Sorensson, Tomas, 2016. "The origin of outperformance for stock recommendations by sell-side analysts," INDEK Working Paper Series 2016/13, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Industrial Economics and Management.
    3. Alexander Kerl & Carolin Schürg & Andreas Walter, 2014. "The impact of Financial Times Deutschland news on stock prices: post-announcement drifts and inattention of investors," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer;Swiss Society for Financial Market Research, vol. 28(4), pages 409-436, November.
    4. Sébastien Galanti & Zahra Ben Braham, 2017. "Information efficiency on an emerging market: analysts' recommendations in Tunisia," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 37(1), pages 377-390.
    5. Florian Esterer & David Schröder, 2014. "Implied cost of capital investment strategies: evidence from international stock markets," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-195, May.
    6. Premti, Arjan & Garcia-Feijoo, Luis & Madura, Jeff, 2017. "Information content of analyst recommendations in the banking industry," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 35-47.
    7. Yezegel, Ari, 2015. "Why do analysts revise their stock recommendations after earnings announcements?," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 163-181.
    8. Medovikov, Ivan, 2014. "Can analysts predict rallies better than crashes?," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 319-325.
    9. Devos, Erik & Hao, Wei & Prevost, Andrew K. & Wongchoti, Udomsak, 2015. "Stock return synchronicity and the market response to analyst recommendation revisions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 376-389.
    10. Kadan, Ohad & Madureira, Leonardo & Wang, Rong & Zach, Tzachi, 2012. "Analysts' industry expertise," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 95-120.
    11. Low, Rand Kwong Yew & Tan, Enoch, 2016. "The role of analyst forecasts in the momentum effect," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 67-84.
    12. Paul J. Bolster & Emery A. Trahan & Pinshuo Wang, 2016. "Assessing performance of Morningstar’s star rating system for equity investment," Journal of Economic and Financial Studies (JEFS), LAR Center Press, vol. 4(1), pages 11-22, February.
    13. Kucheev, Yury O. & Ruiz, Felipe & Sorensson, Tomas, 2015. "Star sell-side analysts listed by Institutional Investor, The Wall Street Journal and StarMine. Whose recommendations are most profitable?," INDEK Working Paper Series 2015/11, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Industrial Economics and Management.

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