This study examines whether security analysts underreact or overreact to prior earnings information, and whether any such behavior could explain previously documented anomalous stock price movements. We present evidence that analysts' forecasts underreact to recent earnings. This feature of the forecasts is consistent with certain properties of the naive seasonal random walk forecast that Bernard and Thomas (1990) hypothesize underlie the well-known anomalous post-earnings-announcement drift. However, the underreactions in analysts' forecasts are at most only about half as large as necessary to explain the magnitude of the drift. We also document that the “extreme” analysts' forecasts studied by DeBondt and Thaler (1990) cannot be viewed as overreactions to earnings, and are not clearly linked to the stock price overreactions discussed in DeBondt and Thaler (1985, 1987) and Chopra, Lakonishok, and Ritter (Forthcoming). We conclude that security analysts' behavior is at best only a partial explanation for stock price underreaction to earnings, and may be unrelated to stock price overreactions.
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