Using Google Searches of Firm Products to Assess Revenue Quality and Detect Revenue Management
61 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2018 Last revised: 13 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 10, 2020
We present evidence that Google searches of firm products (SVI) provide information about firm sales, and that large deviations between reported sales growth and ΔSVI can detect low revenue quality. Firms with such large discrepancies — which we call MUP firms — have (a) low-quality revenues measured as sales growth persistence, (b) increases in accounts receivable, (c) lower allowance reserved for bad debts, and (d) higher upward revenue misstatements that are later subject to SEC enforcement actions, consistent with upward revenue manipulation. Investors do not adequately discount for MUP firms’ low quality of revenue surprises at the earnings announcement; the negative post-announcement return reaction is consistent with a market correction of the initial overvaluation from the upward revenue manipulation.
Keywords: Google Search, Financial Reporting Quality, Revenue Management and Fraud Detection, Nowcasting using Big Data, Auditing Revenues using Big Data, Market Efficiency
JEL Classification: M41, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation