Accounting Accruals and Stock Returns: Evidence from European Equity Markets

Georgios A. Papanastasopoulos

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Abstract: In this paper, I show a generalisation of the negative relation of traditional accruals and percent accruals with future returns in 11 of 16 European countries. Positive abnormal returns from hedge portfolios on both accrual measures summarise the economic significance of this generalisation. The magnitude of returns obtained from traditional accruals is higher than that obtained from percent accruals, contrary to existing evidence from the U.S. capital market. The magnitude of the accrual effect on stock returns based on both accrual measures is stronger in countries with higher individualism, lower uncertainty avoidance, higher equity-market development, higher equity-market liquidity, lower transaction costs, higher analyst coverage, lower analyst optimism, and lower ownership concentration. In markets where minorities have legal protection against expropriation by corporate insiders and where accrual accounting is permitted, the accrual effect based only on percent accruals is positive. Earnings opacity does not appear to exhibit a significant influence. Overall, the evidence suggests that cross-country differences in culture, equity-market setting, analysts' research output, investor protection, and ownership structure play an important role in explaining variation on the magnitude of the accrual anomaly in Europe.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)729-768
    Number of pages40
    JournalEuropean Accounting Review
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2014


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