SYNOPSIS

We investigate the association between earnings quality and investor disagreement regarding the valuation consequences of earnings announcements. A primary purpose of financial reporting, including periodic earnings releases, is to convey useful information to investors. However, earnings may be of low quality due to an inherent failure in the accounting process to accurately represent the economic entity, unintentional errors, or intentional manipulation on the part of management. We argue that low-quality earnings will be associated with more divergent opinions regarding the implication of the earnings signal (i.e., differential interpretations) and, thus, be reflected in their trading activity. We use two abnormal accrual measures and an earnings persistence measure as proxies for earnings quality. We proxy for differential interpretations using abnormal trading volume unrelated to returns and analyst forecast jumbling. Our results show that low earnings quality is associated with more differential interpretations of earnings announcements measures.

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