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Do Security Analysts Speak in Two Tongues?

  • Ulrike Malmendier
  • Devin Shanthikumar

Why do security analysts issue overly positive recommendations? We propose a novel approach to distinguish strategic motives (e.g., generating small-investor purchases and pleasing management) from nonstrategic motives (genuine overoptimism). We argue that nonstrategic distorters tend to issue both positive recommendations and optimistic forecasts, while strategic distorters "speak in two tongues," issuing overly positive recommendations but less optimistic forecasts. We show that the incidence of strategic distortion is large and systematically related to proxies for incentive misalignment. Our "two-tongues metric" reveals strategic distortion beyond those indicators and provides a new tool for detecting incentives to distort that are hard to identify otherwise.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13124.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13124.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13124
Note: AP CF
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  1. Lee, Charles M. C., 1992. "Earnings news and small traders : An intraday analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2-3), pages 265-302, August.
  2. Steven A. Sharpe, 2002. "How does the market interpret analysts' long-term growth forecasts?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-7, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Harrison Hong & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 2003. "Analyzing the Analysts: Career Concerns and Biased Earnings Forecasts," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(1), pages 313-351, 02.
  4. Lin, Hsiou-wei & McNichols, Maureen F., 1998. "Underwriting relationships, analysts' earnings forecasts and investment recommendations," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 101-127, February.
  5. Odders-White, Elizabeth R., 2000. "On the occurrence and consequences of inaccurate trade classification," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 259-286, August.
  6. Kent Daniel & David Hirshleifer & Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, 1998. "Investor Psychology and Security Market Under- and Overreactions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 1839-1885, December.
  7. Lee, Charles M. C. & Radhakrishna, Balkrishna, 2000. "Inferring investor behavior: Evidence from TORQ data," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 83-111, May.
  8. Morgan, J. & Stocken, P., 1998. "An Analysis of Stock Recommendations," Papers 204, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  9. Marco Ottaviani & Francesco Squintani, 2002. "Non-Fully Strategic Information Transmission," Wallis Working Papers WP29, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  10. Lee, Charles M C & Ready, Mark J, 1991. " Inferring Trade Direction from Intraday Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(2), pages 733-46, June.
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