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Initial credit ratings and earnings management

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  • Demirtas, K. Ozgur
  • Rodgers Cornaggia, Kimberly

Abstract

Credit rating agencies assert that they rely on financial information provided by issuers and that they value rating stability as well as accuracy. In an environment where rating agencies depend on issuer-reported information and are reluctant to adjust ratings promptly, managers of issuing firms can utilize the discretion afforded by GAAP to obtain the most favorable credit ratings. Consistent with our expectations, we find that current accruals are unusually positive and high around initial credit ratings. The increase in abnormally high accruals leading up to the initial credit rating year is followed by a reversal in the subsequent years. Multivariate regression analyses suggest that accounting accruals, abnormal current accruals in particular, are significantly positively related to initial credit ratings after controlling for several issue- and issuer-related characteristics indicative of default risk. Our results are robust to additional tests that account for endogeneity between credit ratings and earnings management, adjust for performance, and account for firms issuing debt and equity simultaneously.

Suggested Citation

  • Demirtas, K. Ozgur & Rodgers Cornaggia, Kimberly, 2013. "Initial credit ratings and earnings management," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 135-145.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:revfin:v:22:y:2013:i:4:p:135-145
    DOI: 10.1016/j.rfe.2013.05.003
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    2. Lin, Yi-Mien & Shen, Cheng-An, 2015. "Family firms' credit rating, idiosyncratic risk, and earnings management," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 872-877.
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    5. Driss, Hamdi & Drobetz, Wolfgang & El Ghoul, Sadok & Guedhami, Omrane, 2021. "Institutional investment horizons, corporate governance, and credit ratings: International evidence," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).

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