Get access

Do Managers Always Know Better? The Relative Accuracy of Management and Analyst Forecasts


  • We are grateful to the editor and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments and suggestions. We thank workshop participants at Boston College, Columbia University, Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of Miami, and Nanyang Technological University for useful comments and suggestions.


We examine the relative accuracy of management and analyst forecasts of annual EPS. We predict and find that analysts’ information advantage resides at the macroeconomic level. They provide more accurate earnings forecasts than management when a firm's fortunes move in concert with macroeconomic factors such as Gross Domestic Product and energy costs. In contrast, we predict and find that management's information advantage resides at the firm level. Their forecasts are more accurate than analysts’ when management's actions, which affect reported earnings, are difficult to anticipate by outsiders, such as when the firm's inventories are abnormally high or the firm has excess capacity or is experiencing a loss. Although analysts are commonly viewed as industry specialists, we fail to find evidence that analysts have an information advantage over managers at the industry level. The two have comparable abilities to forecast earnings for firms with revenues or earnings that are more synchronous with their industries.