The Accrual Anomaly and Operating Cash Flows: Evidence from Accrual Components
47 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2006 Last revised: 22 Feb 2012
Date Written: 2011
We argue and show that aggregation of accrual components (changes in inventories, changes in accounts payable, changes in accounts receivable and depreciation expense) into total accruals results in a loss of mispricing-related information in individual accrual components. This motivates us to examine whether the recent evidence that operating cash flows subsume the mispricing effect associated with total accruals holds when accruals are disaggregated into accrual components. We find that accrual components are associated with future abnormal returns even after controlling for operating cash flows and growth. The three-day earnings announcement period abnormal returns also support the finding. The evidence with respect to change in accounts payable is especially noteworthy because its inclusion in total accruals reduces the mispricing effects of other components considerably. Overall, the prior evidence that operating cash flows subsume the mispricing effects associated with total accruals is likely caused by the aggregation of accrual components into total accruals. Future research would benefit from focusing on accrual components rather than total accruals.
Keywords: accrual anomaly, operating cash flows, accrual components
JEL Classification: M41, M43, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation