Accounting Anomalies and Information Uncertainty
We examine whether rational investor responses to information uncertainty explain properties of and returns to accounting-based trading anomalies. We proxy for information uncertainty with two measures of earnings quality: the standard deviation of the residuals from a Dechow and Dichev (2002) model relating accruals to cash flows, and the absolute value of performance-adjusted abnormal accruals from a modified Jones (1991) model. Over 1982-2001, we find that accounting-based trading anomalies (post-earnings announcement drift, value-glamour, and accruals strategies) are correlated with earnings quality. Specifically, extreme anomaly portfolios have poorer earnings quality than non-extreme portfolios, and within the extreme anomaly portfolios, poor earnings quality securities are more prevalent and earn larger abnormal returns than good earnings quality securities. Consistent with greater resolution of uncertainty for poor earnings quality securities, the abnormal returns to poor quality securities converge to the abnormal returns to good quality securities as the post-portfolio formation period lengthens. Taken as a whole, these results indicate that information uncertainty plays an important role in explaining accounting anomalies.
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