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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Jul 15, 2017

Biases in Analysts’ Multiyear Forecasted Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements

Abstract

We evaluate sell-side equity analysts’ multiyear forecasted income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements, and the profitability, efficiency and leverage ratios that they imply. Using both small- sample data extracted manually from Investext PDFs, and large-sample data taken from the I/B/E/S non-EPS archival detail history file, we find that analysts’ long-horizon financial statements contain many biases, many but not all of which are optimistic. Analysts make highly optimistic forecasts of long-horizon EPS, ROE, ROA, ROS and asset turnover, driven by overly bullish projections about revenues and all common-sized expenses except income tax, which they forecast pessimistically. Analysts are optimistic about both long-horizon operating cash flows and operating accruals, and while they are unbiased in their forecasts of long-horizon total assets, they underestimate long-horizon debt and overestimate long-horizon equity. Our regressions support the view that analysts strategically inflate their long-horizon forecasts of EPS the more intangible and hard-to-verify are the firm’s assets.

Note: Research papers posted on SSRN, including any findings, may differ from the final version chosen for publication in academic journals.


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