INFORMATIVENESS OF UNAUDITED FORWARD-LOOKING FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: EVIDENCE FROM UK NARRATIVE REPORTING
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Forward-looking financial disclosure (FLFD) is potentially uninformative if it does not change from the previous year, especially after a significant change in firm performance. This study uses a sample of UK narrative statements of the annual reports over the period from 2005 to 2011. It employed the automated content analysis technique to measure change in FLFD over years to answer three research questions. First, to what extent does change in firms’ earnings performance drive managers to change FLFD over years? Second, what are the other drivers of the change of FLFD from year to year? Third, do investors use information revealed by the change in FLFD? The study finds a positive association between change in FLFD and change in firm earnings performance. However, it finds weak evidence that firms with larger changes in their earnings performance are likely to change their FLFD more than those with smaller performance changes. In addition, when we distinguish between well-performing and poorly performing firms, it finds that the change in FLFD is more positively associated with poorly performing firms compared to well-performing firms. Furthermore, it finds that change in FLFD is positively (negatively) associated with firm size, (competitive environment), (litigious environment), and (percentage of managerial ownership). In addition, the role of the auditor in overseeing narrative reporting is not appearing for all sample firms or for well-performing firms, however, it is observable only in poorly performing firms. Finally, the study uses firm value three months after the release of the annual report to examine investors’ responses to the changes in FLFD. It finds that the value of a firm decreases as long as it changes its FLFD from the previous year. However, when we distinguish between well and poorly performing firms, it finds that the change in FLFD has no effect on the value of well-performing firms, while, it negatively affects poorly performing firms. The results suggest that FLFD in UK narratives includes some content about firm performance. However, it neither affects the value of well-performing firms nor enhances investors’ valuation of poorly performing firms.
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