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Playing Favorites: How Firms Prevent the Revelation of Bad News

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  • Lauren Cohen
  • Dong Lou
  • Christopher Malloy

Abstract

We explore a subtle but important mechanism through which firms can control information flow to the markets. We find that firms that “cast” their conference calls by disproportionately calling on bullish analysts tend to underperform in the future. Firms that call on more favorable analysts experience more negative future earnings surprises and more future earnings restatements. A long-short portfolio that exploits this differential firm behavior earns abnormal returns of up to 149 basis points per month, or almost 18 percent per year. We find similar evidence in an international sample of earnings call transcripts from the UK, Canada, France, and Japan. Firms with higher discretionary accruals, firms that barely meet/exceed earnings expectations, and firms (and their executives) that are about to issue equity, sell shares, and exercise options, are all significantly more likely to cast their earnings calls.

Suggested Citation

  • Lauren Cohen & Dong Lou & Christopher Malloy, 2013. "Playing Favorites: How Firms Prevent the Revelation of Bad News," NBER Working Papers 19429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19429
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David F. Larcker & Anastasia A. Zakolyukina, 2012. "Detecting Deceptive Discussions in Conference Calls," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 495-540, May.
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    4. Stephan Hollander & Maarten Pronk & Erik Roelofsen, 2010. "Does Silence Speak? An Empirical Analysis of Disclosure Choices During Conference Calls," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 531-563, June.
    5. William J. Mayew, 2008. "Evidence of Management Discrimination Among Analysts during Earnings Conference Calls," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 627-659, June.
    6. Shuping Chen & Dawn A. Matsumoto, 2006. "Favorable versus Unfavorable Recommendations: The Impact on Analyst Access to Management-Provided Information," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 657-689, September.
    7. Patricia C. O'Brien & Maureen F. Mcnichols & Lin Hsiou-Wei, 2005. "Analyst Impartiality and Investment Banking Relationships," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 623-650, September.
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    12. Stefano Dellavigna & Joshua M. Pollet, 2009. "Investor Inattention and Friday Earnings Announcements," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(2), pages 709-749, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michał Dzieliński & Alexander F. Wagner & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 2017. "Straight Talkers and Vague Talkers: The Effects of Managerial Style in Earnings Conference Calls," NBER Working Papers 23425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:jbfina:v:82:y:2017:i:c:p:59-79 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Chahine, Salim & Mansi, Sattar & Mazboudi, Mohamad, 2015. "Media news and earnings management prior to equity offerings," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 177-195.
    4. Houdou Basse Mama & Rachidi Kotchoni, 2017. "Investor Relations' Quality and Mispricing," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-33, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G0 - Financial Economics - - General
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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