SYNOPSIS

This study provides evidence that the weak (asset-deflated) accruals anomaly is attributable to firms having both highly negative accruals and cash flows. These firms yield highly negative future stock returns, which weakens the accruals anomaly by depressing overall future stock returns of the lowest accruals portfolio while reinforcing the cash flows anomaly. Among accruals components, accounts payable, depreciation, and non-current accruals capture their declining economic fundamentals and drive away the accruals anomaly. Additionally, we document that firms having both highly negative accruals and cash flows can account for the nonexistence of the accruals anomaly for loss firms, and reconcile the weak asset-deflated accruals anomaly with the robust earnings-deflated accruals anomaly (i.e., percent accruals). Overall, our findings suggest that implications of negative accruals depend on the level of cash flows, and a small subset of firms having both highly negative accruals and cash flows may distort the results of accruals anomaly tests.

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