The Implications of Accounting Distortions and Growth for Accruals and Profitability
Posted: 14 Dec 2005
Following Sloan (1996), numerous studies document that the accrual component of earnings is less persistent than the cash flow component of earnings. Disagreement exists, however, as to the explanation for this result. One stream of literature follows Sloan's lead in arguing that this result is attributable to accounting distortions (Xie, 2001; Dechow and Dichev, 2002; Richardson et al., 2005). A second stream of literature argues that this result is attributable to a more general growth effect and that growth-related factors such as diminishing returns to new investment explain the lower persistence of accruals (e.g., Fairfield, Whisenant and Yohn, 2003a; Cooper, Gulen and Schill, 2005). We provide new evidence indicating that temporary accounting distortions are a significant contributing factor to the lower persistence of the accrual component of earnings. Our evidence indicates that the lower persistence of accruals extends to accruals that are unrelated to sales growth and that extreme accruals are systematically associated with alleged cases of earnings manipulation.
Keywords: accruals, earnings management, conservative accounting, aggressive accounting
JEL Classification: M41, M43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation