CEO Influence on Funds from Operations (FFO) Adjustment for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
32 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 3, 2020
This paper investigates non-GAAP performance measures of the REIT industry, specifically the difference (FFO adjustment) between concurrent FFO and Net Income (NI). Using the U.S. Equity REIT data from 1993 to 2018, we first find evidence that both NI and FFO are associated with REIT market-adjusted stock returns, suggesting both contain information that is valuable to investors. Second, we document a significant and positive relationship between contemporaneous FFO adjustment and NI, indicating a possible “selective” and “intentional” inclusion and/or omission of the “good” vs. “bad” news in the FFO reporting. Third, we find direct evidence that more powerful CEOs are indeed associated with higher FFO adjustments, suggesting CEOs’ involvement in hiding subpar performance. Finally, we focus our attention in a more recent period, when the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT) provides additional clarifications and guidelines, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) increases scrutiny on FFO reporting. Our results show a diminished “manipulation” for the majority of the REITs, suggesting these guidelines and scrutiny have achieved the intended purposes. While non-GAAP performance measures might supply additional information to investors, our results indicate that providing continuous guidance and monitoring is essential.
Keywords: REITs, Funds from Operations, CEO power
JEL Classification: G10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation