SYNOPSIS

We examine the impact of IFRS adoption on the earnings quality of foreign firms cross-listed in the U.S. from countries that have already adopted IFRS on a mandatory basis. We use the cross-listed firms as surrogates for the U.S. firms so we can observe the effect of IFRS adoption in the U.S. We examine five measures of earnings quality related to discretionary accruals, target beating, earnings persistence, timely loss recognition, and the earnings response coefficient (ERC). To isolate the effect of IFRS adoption, we use a matched sample design where each cross-listed firm is matched to a U.S. firm. We find the difference in earnings quality from the pre- to post-IFRS period is not different for the cross-listed and matched firms when earnings quality is measured by absolute discretionary accruals, timely loss recognition, or a long-window ERC. However, for the incidence of small positive earnings and earnings persistence, we find significant difference-in-differences, indicating that IFRS adoption led to an improvement in earnings quality for cross-listed firms relative to the matched firms. Our results are slightly surprising since U.S. GAAP is generally viewed as high-quality standards with little room for improvement.

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