Information in balance sheets for future stock returns: Evidence from net operating assets
In this paper, we show that the negative relation of net operating assets (NOA) with future stock returns first documented by Hirshleifer et al. (2004) applies to both net working and investing pieces of NOA, while it is mostly driven by asset NOA components. Predictability of returns is significant only for their unexpected parts (unrelated to past sales growth) and not uniform across different industries. We also find that only high (low) NOA firms with asset expansion (contraction) and weak (strong) background of profitable investments exhibit negative (positive) abnormal returns. Our evidence suggests that the NOA anomaly may be present due to a combination of opportunistic earnings management and agency related overinvestment.
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