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Reporting Discretion and Private Information Communication through Earnings


  • Mandira Roy Sankar
  • K. R. Subramanyam


type="main" xml:lang="en"> We model a two-period pure exchange economy where a risk averse manager, who has private information regarding future earnings, is required to issue an earnings report to investors at the end of each period. While the manager is prohibited from directly disclosing her private information, she is allowed to bias reported earnings in the first period, subject to GAAP rules that require that a specified proportion of the bias be reversed subsequently. We show there is a minimum threshold of reversal, such that, when the proportion of required reversal is above this threshold, the manager smooths income and communicates her private information through reported earnings. Consequently, the market attaches greater weight to reported earnings than under a regime that allows no discretion. When the required reversal is below the minimum threshold, the manager increases reported earnings without limit and the equilibrium degenerates. When the manager is not endowed with any private information, the market unravels the “true” earnings and price is unaffected by earnings management. Our results underscore the importance of both allowing and restricting reporting discretion through formal mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

  • Mandira Roy Sankar & K. R. Subramanyam, 2001. "Reporting Discretion and Private Information Communication through Earnings," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(2), pages 365-386, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:39:y:2001:i:2:p:365-386

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    5. Datta, Sudip & Iskandar-Datta, Mai & Singh, Vivek, 2014. "Opaque financial reports and R2: Revisited," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 10-17.
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    7. Jerry, Sun, 2011. "The Effect of Analyst Coverage on the Informativeness of Income Smoothing," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 333-349, September.
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    10. Degiannakis, Stavros & Giannopoulos, George & Ibrahim, Salma & Rozic, Ivana, 2017. "Earnings Management to Avoid Losses and Earnings Declines in Croatia," MPRA Paper 80164, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Ching-Lung Chen & Pin-Yu Lin & Pei-Yu Weng, 2014. "Real Activities Manipulation and Subsequent Accounting Performance ---Yes, the Manipulating Direction Matters," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 4, pages 81-97, Feburary.
    12. Takuya Iwasaki & Norio Kitagawa & Akinobu Shuto, 2015. "Managerial discretion over initial earnings forecasts," CARF F-Series CARF-F-369, Center for Advanced Research in Finance, Faculty of Economics, The University of Tokyo.
    13. Chii-Shyan Kuo & Xu Wang & Shih-Ti Yu, 2016. "Investor perception of managerial discretion in valuing stock options: an empirical examination," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 733-773, October.
    14. Athanasakou, Vasiliki & Strong, Norman & Walker, Martin, 2010. "The association between classificatory and inter-temporal smoothing: Evidence from the UK's FRS 3," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 224-257, June.
    15. Chen, Changling & Kim, Jeong-Bon & Yao, Li, 2017. "Earnings smoothing: Does it exacerbate or constrain stock price crash risk?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 36-54.
    16. Denis Cormier & Pascale Lapointe-Antunes & Bruce J. McConomy, 2014. "Forecasts in IPO Prospectuses: The Effect of Corporate Governance on Earnings Management," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1-2), pages 100-127, January.
    17. Yim, Andrew, 2013. "Mixture and Continuous 'Discontinuity' Hypotheses: An Earnings Management Model with Auditor-Required Adjustment," MPRA Paper 44702, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Wei Zhou & Liansheng Wu & Hong Wang, 2016. "The Consequences of Increasing the Scope of Managerial Judgement in Accounting Standards," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 52(3), pages 404-440, September.
    19. Beyer, Anne & Cohen, Daniel A. & Lys, Thomas Z. & Walther, Beverly R., 2010. "The financial reporting environment: Review of the recent literature," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 296-343, December.
    20. A. Szczesny & A. Lenk & T. Huang, 2008. "Substitution, availability and preferences in earnings management: empirical evidence from China," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 129-160, July.
    21. Akinobu Shuto & Takuya Iwasaki, 2014. "Stable Shareholdings, the Decision Horizon Problem and Earnings Smoothing," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(9-10), pages 1212-1242, November.
    22. Douglas Shackelford & Joel Slemrod & James Sallee, 2011. "Financial reporting, tax, and real decisions: toward a unifying framework," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(4), pages 461-494, August.
    23. Kenneth Froot & Namho Kang & Gideon Ozik & Ronnie Sadka, 2016. "What Do Measures of Real-time Corporate Sales Tell Us about Earnings Surprises and Post-Announcement Returns?," NBER Working Papers 22366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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