A Theory of Analysts Forecast Bias
Posted: 31 Dec 1998
In this paper, we provide an equilibrium explanation for the observed optimism in analysts' earnings forecasts. Our analysis provides theoretical support to the widely held notion that analysts engage in earnings optimism to gain access to management's private information. We show that a strategic analyst, who is motivated by improving the combined accuracy of his forecasts, issues a biased initial forecast to extract information from management, but issues unbiased forecasts subsequently. The management, on the other hand, provides more access because this optimistic bias reduces the proprietary costs associated with disclosure at the margin. An important element of our model is the assumption that analysts also have private information relevant to assessing firm value. Despite rational expectations about analyst bias, analysts' private information cannot be fully unravelled by other agents due to the noise introduced by the diversity in analysts' incentives.
JEL Classification: G14, M41
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