S&P 500 Membership and Managers’ Supply of Conservative Financial Reports
29 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2016
Date Written: May/June 2016
Our study is motivated by economic theory and the debate among practitioners, standard setters, and academics on the role of conditional conservatism in financial reporting. We find that managers provide less conditionally conservative financial reports after their firms are added to the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 index. S&P 500 membership is expected to reduce information asymmetry between managers and outside stakeholders due to an increased flow of public and private information. As a result, the contracting benefits of conservative accounting choices are reduced, and managers are less willing to provide conditionally conservative reports. In contrast, we find that managers provide more conditionally conservative financial reports after their firms are deleted from the index. Firms being deleted from the S&P 500 index probably incur an increase in information asymmetry. Overall, our results provide evidence consistent with conditional conservatism being a response by managers to the information needs of financial statements users.
Keywords: conservatism, S&P 500, information asymmetry, earnings quality, agency theory
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