Does Alternative Data Improve Financial Forecasting? The Horizon Effect
65 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2020 Last revised: 10 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 5, 2021
We analyze the effect of alternative data on the informativeness of financial forecasts. Our starting hypothesis is that the emergence of alternative data reduces the cost of obtaining information about firms' short-term cash-flows more than their long-term cash-flows. If correct, and forecasting short-term and long-term cash-flows are distinct tasks, analysts will reduce effort to process long-term information when alternative data becomes available. Alternative data thus makes long-term forecasts less informative, while increasing the informativeness of short-term forecasts. We confirm this prediction using variations in analysts' exposure to social media data and a new measure of forecast informativeness at various horizons.
Keywords: Big data, Financial analysts' forecasts, Forecasting horizon, Forecasts' informativeness, Social media
JEL Classification: D84, G14, G17, M41
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