Earnings Management and the Financial Statement Analyst

Steven C. Hall, Vipin Agrawal, Pushpa Agrawal


This paper reviews earnings management literature from the perspective of the financial statement analyst. The analyst will want to know if the company being analyzed is likely to have manipulated or managed the financial statement numbers, which numbers in the financial statements are most likely to have been managed, and the magnitude of the management.

For several decades researchers have been documenting the manipulation or management of financial statement numbers. They have documented various management devices and a host of contexts that provide incentive to manage. Yet, this review reveals that an individual analyst, working to understand a single company, has little to guide him or her in assessing the probability that the firm under consideration has managed financial statement numbers, which numbers may have been managed, and to what extent they may have been managed. While much work has been done and many papers published, the hard work of making the research useful to the financial statement user remains to be done.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/afr.v2n2p105


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