This study investigates managers’ motivations to engage in earnings management through purposeful interventions in the setting of discretionary accruals, in the context of initial public offerings (IPOs) in France. Firms issuing forecasts in their prospectuses are expected to differ from nonforecasters in the level of earnings management during the year following the public offering. Within the context of contracting theory, four research questions are addressed. First, are IPO firms issuing forecasts more inclined to manage earnings 1 year after an IPO compared to nonforecasting firms? Second, is a forecasting firm’s level of earnings management conditioned by earnings-forecast deviation? Third, is earnings management by IPO forecasting firms affected by contractual and governance environments? Fourth, how do investors see through earnings management following IPO earnings forecasts, i.e., how do stock market participants value earnings components (i.e., nondiscretionary and discretionary accruals)? Our findings document that in the year following an IPO, the magnitude of earnings management is much higher for forecasters than for nonforecasters. Results also show that a firm’s accrual behavior is affected by earnings-forecast deviation, but the relationship is moderated by contractual and governance constraints. Finally, it would appear that French investors do not adequately readjust the relationship between reported earnings and a firm’s market value for the year in which earnings are subject to manipulations.
The association between management earnings forecasts, earnings management, and stock market valuation: Evidence from French IPOs
Initial public offering