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Additional Evidence on Analysts’ Decision to Issue Disaggregated Earnings Forecasts: Strategic Biasing

Authors


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge the thoughtful comments and suggestions of the anonymous reviewer. The authors also gratefully acknowledge financial support for this research from the College of Business Administration at California State University, Long Beach.

Herbert G. Hunt III is a Professor, Praveen Sinha (psinha@csulb.edu) an Associate Professor and Yuan Yin an Assistant Professor, all in the Department of Accountancy at California State University, Long Beach.

Abstract

This study examines why analysts issue disaggregated earnings forecasts to I/B/E/S. Some recent studies suggest that analysts with superior forecasting ability issue disaggregated earnings forecasts to build reputation in the marketplace and stop forecast disaggregation once their reputation has been established. Based on an analysis of I/B/E/S forecast data for U.S. firms from 1998 to 2008, we find that, in a given year, about 20%–34% of analysts disaggregate for some, but not for all the firms that they follow. This evidence of selective disaggregation by analysts suggests that reputation building alone does not fully explain the decision to disaggregate forecasts. We hypothesize that the decision to disaggregate earnings forecasts is at the firm-level as well and is systematically related to the analysts’ bias in the issued forecasts. Our findings are that (a) analysts’ overall optimistic bias and forecast errors decrease monotonically with the level of forecast disaggregation, and (b) analysts that selectively disaggregate their forecasts for some firms or who do not persistently disaggregate a given firm's forecasts exhibit more positive bias and larger forecast errors. Our findings are consistent with the notion that the analysts who issue biased forecasts, for example, to curry favour with the management, are less likely to provide disaggregated information as part of the forecast.

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