SYNOPSIS

Auditing standards require auditors to consider whether there is “substantial doubt” that their client will remain a going concern and to, accordingly, modify the audit report (PCAOB AS 2415). Prior research reports larger negative excess returns for bankrupt firms when bankruptcies occur without a prior going concern opinion. We investigate whether such audit opinions can also have an impact on industry peer firms. We find that peer firms experience significantly larger negative stock price drops when rivals' bankruptcies are not preceded by a going concern opinion. In addition, we find evidence of incremental stock price declines for peer firms when Big N audit firms fail to issue a going concern opinion. These findings should be of significant interest to regulators, auditors, and capital market participants as they serve to enhance our current understanding of the importance of going concern opinions for the share pricing of industry peer firms.

JEL Classifications: G14; G33; M4; M42.

Data Availability: All data are from public sources identified in the manuscript.

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