Analyst Coverage and Intangible Assets



This study examines the relation between analysts' incentives to cover firms and the extent of their intangible assets. Because intangible assets typically are unrecognized and estimates of their fair values are not disclosed, absent analyst coverage firms with more intangible assets likely have less informative prices. Accordingly, we expect analysts have greater incentives to cover firms with more intangible assets and, thus, predict they have higher analyst coverage. As predicted, we find that analyst coverage is significantly greater for firms with larger research and development and advertising expenses relative to their industry, and for firms in industries with larger research and development expense. We also predict and find that analyst coverage is increasing in firm size, growth, trading volume, equity issuance, and perceived mispricing, and is decreasing in the size of the firm's analysts' brokerage houses and the effort analysts expend to follow the firm. These findings indicate that analyst coverage depends on private benefits and costs of covering a firm. We also test hypotheses related to analyst effort. We predict and find that analysts expend greater effort to follow firms with more intangible assets, after controlling for other factors associated with analyst effort. Our evidence indicates that intangible assets, most of which are not recognized in firms' financial statements, are associated with greater incentives for analysts to cover such firms, and greater costs of coverage. An open question is whether financial statement recognition of intangible assets could more efficiently provide information about such assets to investors.