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This study examines how the sell-side analysts interpret firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Specifically, we examine the differential impact of overall, legal, and normative CSR on the analysts’ earnings forecast dispersion, stock return volatility, cost of equity capital, and firm value. Employing a sample of U.S. public firms during 1993–2009, we find that overall CSR intensities reduce analyst dispersion of earnings forecast, volatility of stock return and cost of capital (COC), and increase firm value. However, its impact is reduced for firms with better accounting and disclosure quality. When we disaggregate CSR into legal and normative CSR, we find that legal (normative) CSR decreases (increases) analysts’ dispersion, stock return volatility, and COC, while legal (normative) CSR increases (decreases) firm value. The sell-side analysts tend to have less (greater) information asymmetry regarding the net benefits of pursuing CSR that is (not) required by laws. We find, however, that the benefit of having normative CSR realized in 1 year lag such that analyst dispersion, stock return volatility, COC decrease, respectively, and firm value increases. Furthermore, we find that the benefit of normative CSR is offset for firms with higher accounting and disclosure quality.
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- Legal vs. Normative CSR: Differential Impact on Analyst Dispersion, Stock Return Volatility, Cost of Capital, and Firm Value
Maretno A. Harjoto
- Springer Netherlands
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