The usefulness of earnings and cash flows in valuing security returns: empirical evidence for the U.K, U.S.A and France.
PhD thesis, Middlesex University.
In this dissertation, I proposed to examine and test empirically six major hypotheses that relate to the role of financial information, namely earnings and cash flows, in three major capital markets, two Anglo-Saxon, the UK and the USA and one code law country, France. A theoretical framework is developed to set the groundwork for building up my research hypotheses. I hypothesize that the homogeneity across firms may not hold, due to firm-specific, industry-specific, and country specific differences across firms. The dataset consists of 36,695 USA, 4,234 UK and 1,181 French firm-year observations over the period 1990-98. Multivariate statistical regression analysis is undertaken to test the major research hypotheses.
The major conclusions drawn from the empirical results are summarized as follows. First, results indicate that indeed both earnings and cash flows are taken into consideration by investors in their investment decisions. Second, given cash flows, results show that earnings are always very important to investors and financial analysts for investment purposes; given earnings though results show that cash flows are more important to investors in the Anglo-Saxon countries, possibly due to the lower importance that investors place on the manipulated earnings in these less conservative countries. As far as France is concerned, results reveal that investors place much more attention to earnings and less attention to cash flows. Third, results show that the value relevance of earnings and cash flows is industry specific. Fourth, evidence shows that investors pay more attention to longer-run earnings and cash flows rather than to shorter-run financial information. Fifth, when earnings are transitory (not stable), investors pay more attention to cash flows and less attention to earnings, a result indicating that investors penalize firms with unstable earnings. Sixth, results show that the value relevance of earnings and cash flows is country specific. Specifically, results indicate that earnings are valued more in France and less in the Anglo-Saxon countries, due to the fact that the financial
Saxon countries is much more liberal (less conservative) and managers may manipulate easier financial information. Moreover, as hypothesized, results show that cash flows are the most (least) value relevant in the USA and the UK (France).
In summary, the evidence provided in this dissertation supports that indeed there are substantial differences in the way investors and financial analysts perceive financial information such as earnings and cash flows in the UK, France and the USA. The results of this dissertation should be of great importance to the major stakeholders such as investors, creditors, financial analysts, especially after the latest financial scandals and collapses of giant organizations worldwide. Furthermore, these results support that fundamental analysis does play a very important role in the capital markets and it should be taken more seriously into consideration by the stakeholders for investing, credit, financing and valuation analysis purposes.
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