A Reexamination of the Persistence of Accruals and Cash Flows

Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 43, pp. 413-451, June 2005

39 Pages Posted: 8 May 2006

Date Written: 2004-10-29

Abstract

We reexamine prior studies` conclusion that accruals are less persistent than cash, focusing on two aspects of persistence that are crucial to determining its properties. The first (time specificity) refers to the fact that persistence describes how shocks to income translate into next-period income. Traditional measures of accruals are, however, functions of current- non-current-period transactions. We show that the inclusion of non-current-period transactions leads to a downward (upward) bias on the persistence of accruals (cash flows). We develop alternative measures of accruals and cash flows that are not misaligned and show that the differential persistence of cash flows over accruals is more than 70% smaller using these measures. The second aspect of persistence is firm-specificity. Specifically, we evaluate persistence using firm-specific estimations and find that more than 85% of firms show no evidence that accruals are less persistent than cash flows.

Suggested Citation

Francis, Jennifer, A Reexamination of the Persistence of Accruals and Cash Flows (2004-10-29). Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 43, pp. 413-451, June 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=876677 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-679x.2005.00176.x

Jennifer Francis (Contact Author)

Duke University ( email )

220 Allen Building
Durham, NC 27705
United States

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