Conference Presentations and the Disclosure Milieu


  • We thank an anonymous reviewer, Doug Skinner (editor), Bill Baber, Bill Cready, Victoria Dickinson, Bjorn Jorgensen, Dawn Matsumoto, Jayanthi Sunder, Ro Verrecchia, and workshop participants at the 2008 American Accounting Association Annual Meeting, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Harvard Business School, London Business School, Northwestern University, the Stanford University Summer Camp, University of Colorado, University of Florida, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Washington for helpful comments and suggestions. We thank Maria Aguilar Paredes, Lyndsey Bunting, Jack Chen, Ashley Hamilton, Sammi Liu, and Josh Sandberg for research assistance. We are grateful for the funding of this research by the Wharton School and the Michael R. and Mary Kay Hallman Fellowship.


Conference presentations differ from other voluntary disclosures in that the audience for the disclosure is co-located with managers in a well-defined physical and social setting, or “disclosure milieu.” The milieu affects the degree to which conference participants can update their prior beliefs about the firm with information signals obtained through interactions with management and other informed participants. While the average abnormal stock return and volume reactions to presentations are positive, there is a great deal of cross-sectional variation as indicated by negative median reactions. We find that conference characteristics that determine the nature of the audience and its interactions, such as sponsor, location, size, and industry-focus, are significantly associated with the market reaction, consistent with the disclosure milieu explaining the cross-sectional variation in the information content of the presentation. We also find that conference characteristics explain changes in subsequent analyst and institutional investor following, consistent with the disclosure milieu creating differences in access to management by potential new investors and analysts.