Accruals and price crashes

Research paper by Wei Zhu

Indexed on: 14 Mar '16Published on: 14 Mar '16Published in: Review of Accounting Studies


I investigate the relation between accruals and firm-level price crashes, representing extreme price decreases in weekly returns. I find that high accruals predict a higher price crash probability than low accruals. This finding can be explained by managers’ use of income-increasing accrual estimates to hoard bad news. Once accumulated bad news crosses a tipping point, it is released all at once and results in a price crash. Consistent with this explanation, I find the observed relation to be the strongest for operating assets (the least reliable accrual components). Cross-sectional analyses further support the bad news hoarding explanation.