Title: The effect of earnings characteristics on firms' discretionary disclosure decisions

Authors: William Wilcox, Kevin Thomas Berry, Yonpae Park, Mitchell Raiborn

Addresses: University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO, USA. ' School of Management, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA. ' Savannah State University, Savannah, GA 31404, USA. ' Bradley University, Peoria, IL 61525, USA

Abstract: This study examines whether firms expand accounting disclosures in response to perceived market undervaluation. Using a signalling theory framework, this paper predicts that managers will use disclosures to align the market|s expectations about future earnings performance with their own. We predict that the market undervalues firms with positive (negative) abnormal earnings when the persistence of the abnormal earnings is higher (lower) than market expectations. Therefore, these firms will signal to the market by expanding their accounting disclosures. Furthermore, firms with positive and negative abnormal growth are expected to seek different types of disclosures to correct the perceived undervaluation. Our findings demonstrate that a relationship exists between the persistence of the earnings components and firms| changes in discretionary disclosures, suggesting that characteristics of corporate earnings are associated with changes in disclosure decisions. Therefore, any analysis of the benefits to expanded disclosures should also consider the characteristics of the reported earnings.

Keywords: discretionary disclosures; earnings characteristics; abnormal earnings; international accounting disclosures; signalling theory framework; market expectations; future earnings performance; abnormal growth; undervaluation; corporate earnings; disclosure decisions; expanded disclosures; reported earnings; finance.

DOI: 10.1504/IJAF.2010.032085

International Journal of Accounting and Finance, 2010 Vol.2 No.2, pp.131 - 155

Published online: 09 Mar 2010 *

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