SYNOPSIS: This study examines whether the Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 404 (S404) compliance efforts lead to higher quality financial reports. An objective of S404 is to encourage companies to devote adequate resources and attention to their internal control systems, which should lead to more reliable financial statements. A natural laboratory of S404 compliance and noncompliance companies exists because the Securities and Exchange Commission has deferred the S404 compliance date for small companies (nonaccelerated filers). A logistic regression model is estimated using a sample of companies surrounding the S404 compliance threshold to measure the S404 compliance effect on the likelihood of issuing materially misstated financial statements. The results show a significant and negative relation between S404 compliance and issuance of materially misstated financial statements, and suggest that the S404 regulation is meeting its objective of improving the quality of financial reports.

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