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Capitalized intangibles and financial analysts

Zoltan Matolcsy and Anne Wyatt

Accounting and Finance, 2006, vol. 46, issue 3, 457-479

Abstract: We examine whether firms that capitalize a higher proportion of their underlying intangible assets have higher analyst following, lower dispersion of analysts’ earnings forecasts and more accurate earnings forecasts relative to firms that capitalize a lower proportion. Under Australian generally accepted accounting principles, capitalization of intangible assets has become increasingly ‘routine’ since the late 1980s. It is predicted that this experience leads Australian analysts to expect firms with relatively more certain intangible investments to signal this fact by capitalizing intangible assets. Our results are consistent with this. We find that capitalization of intangible assets is associated with higher analyst following and lower absolute earnings forecast error for firms with a stock of underlying intangible assets. Our tests suggest a weaker association between capitalization and lower earnings forecast dispersion. We conclude that there are benefits for analysts, for management to have the option to capitalize intangible assets. These findings suggest that IAS 38 Intangible Assets and AASB 138 Intangible Assets reduce the usefulness of financial statements.

Date: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:bla:acctfi:v:46:y:2006:i:3:p:457-479