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Analytical debiasing of corporate cash flow forecasts

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  • Blanc, Sebastian M.
  • Setzer, Thomas

Abstract

We propose and empirically test statistical approaches to debiasing judgmental corporate cash flow forecasts. Accuracy of cash flow forecasts plays a pivotal role in corporate planning as liquidity and foreign exchange risk management are based on such forecasts. Surprisingly, to our knowledge there is no previous empirical work on the identification, statistical correction, and interpretation of prediction biases in large enterprise financial forecast data in general, and cash flow forecasting in particular. Employing a unique set of empirical forecasts delivered by 34 legal entities of a multinational corporation over a multi-year period, we compare different forecast correction techniques such as Theil’s method and approaches employing robust regression, both with various discount factors. Our findings indicate that rectifiable mean as well as regression biases exist for all business divisions of the company and that statistical correction increases forecast accuracy significantly. We show that the parameters estimated by the models for different business divisions can also be related to the characteristics of the business environment and provide valuable insights for corporate financial controllers to better understand, quantify, and feedback the biases to the forecasters aiming to systematically improve predictive accuracy over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Blanc, Sebastian M. & Setzer, Thomas, 2015. "Analytical debiasing of corporate cash flow forecasts," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 243(3), pages 1004-1015.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:243:y:2015:i:3:p:1004-1015
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejor.2014.12.035
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:jrpoli:v:55:y:2018:i:c:p:103-112 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:ejores:v:272:y:2019:i:1:p:162-175 is not listed on IDEAS

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