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Beyond the numbers: an analysis of optimistic and pessimistic language in earnings press releases

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  • Angela K. Davis
  • Jeremy M. Piger
  • Lisa M. Sedor

Abstract

In this paper, we examine whether managers use optimistic and pessimistic language in earnings press releases to provide information about expected future firm performance to the market, and whether the market responds to optimistic and pessimistic language usage in earnings press releases after controlling for the earnings surprise and other factors likely to influence the market*s response to the earnings announcement. We use textual-analysis software to measure levels of optimistic and pessimistic language for a sample of approximately 24,000 earnings press releases issued between 1998 and 2003. We find a positive (negative) association between optimistic (pessimistic) language usage and future firm performance and a significant incremental market response to optimistic and pessimistic language usage in earnings press releases. Results suggest managers use optimistic and pessimistic language to provide credible information about expected future firm performance to the market, and that the market responds to managers' language usage.

Suggested Citation

  • Angela K. Davis & Jeremy M. Piger & Lisa M. Sedor, 2006. "Beyond the numbers: an analysis of optimistic and pessimistic language in earnings press releases," Working Papers 2006-005, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2006-005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Baginski, Stephen P & Hassell, John M & Hillison, William A, 2000. "Voluntary Causal Disclosures: Tendencies and Capital Market Reaction," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 371-389, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelle T. Armesto & Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Michael T. Owyang & Jeremy M. Piger, 2007. "Identifying asymmetry in the language of the Beige Book: a mixed data sampling approach," Working Papers 2007-010, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    2. Jacob Boudoukh & Ronen Feldman & Shimon Kogan & Matthew Richardson, 2013. "Which News Moves Stock Prices? A Textual Analysis," NBER Working Papers 18725, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Benjamin Born & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2011. "Macroprudential policy and central bank communication," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Macroprudential regulation and policy, volume 60, pages 107-110 Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Balakrishnan, Ramji & Qiu, Xin Ying & Srinivasan, Padmini, 2010. "On the predictive ability of narrative disclosures in annual reports," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 202(3), pages 789-801, May.

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