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13.11.2023

The media response to a loss of analyst coverage

verfasst von: Nicholas Guest, Jaewoo Kim

Erschienen in: Review of Accounting Studies

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Abstract

This paper examines how the media responds to the loss of analyst coverage resulting from brokerage mergers and closures. We find some evidence of an overall decrease in media coverage of affected firms, consistent with analysts serving as a useful information source for the media. However, media coverage during the earnings announcement significantly increases, consistent with the media switching their efforts to events with more non-analyst (e.g., firm-provided) information available. Both the overall decrease and the shift towards the earnings announcement are more pronounced for journalists who are more likely to rely on analysts and for firms that provide more information to supplement their earnings announcement (e.g., bundled guidance and investor relations). Overall our paper suggests that the loss of analyst coverage increases the costs of supplying media coverage, resulting in a decrease in media coverage as well as a greater focus on the earnings announcement within the remaining coverage.

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Fußnoten
1
Focusing on analysts, Beyer et al. (2010) state “evidence on the interplay between the information provided by sell-side security analysts and other information intermediaries is limited” (p. 329). Focusing on the media, Miller and Skinner (2015) state: “One promising approach is to consider the media’s interaction with other players in financial markets, such as analysts.” (p. 232).
 
2
A vast literature shows that equity analysts contribute to the efficiency of capital markets and discipline managerial opportunism (see Beyer et al. 2010; Bradshaw et al. 2016; Kothari et al. 2016 for reviews). Likewise, a budding literature suggests the financial media fills related roles (e.g., Bushee Core et al. 2010; see also Tetlock 2014, 2015 and Miller and Skinner 2015 for reviews).
 
3
For example, among the firm-initiated press releases disseminated by Dow Jones Newswire during our sample period, earnings is by far the most common topic, making up 28% of the total. The other topics that make up at least 3% of the total are as follows: products and services (17%), marketing (10%), investor relations (9%), labor issues (9%), dividends (6%), equity actions (4%), mergers and acquisitions (4%), credit ratings (3%), and partnerships (3%).
 
4
Moreover, in the short run, the supply of journalists is sticky. For example, Ellison (2010) and Guest (2021) detail several restructuring events at The Wall Street Journal that, among other things, changed the number and type of journalists working there. Because many jobs and the company’s culture were at stake, these restructurings were years in the making, generated substantial pushback from various stakeholders, and in some cases were quickly reversed (at least partially). As a result of this stickiness in supply, journalists may continue to write about a firm, because they are expected to produce articles about something, even when a loss of analysts significantly changes the costs of doing so.
 
5
Some investor relations officers are also responsible for public and media relations (Chapman et al. 2019). Relatedly, several studies show that a firm’s investor relations activities influence its media coverage (Solomon 2012; Bushee and Miller 2012; Kirk and Vincent 2014).
 
6
For example, Kelly and Ljungqvist (2012), Irani and Oesch (2013, 2016), Chen et al. (2015), and Christensen et al. (2021).
 
7
For example, one might predict that the media could substitute for the analysts lost due to the brokerage events. However, all the papers providing evidence of negative outcomes following those events suggest this was not the case, despite our evidence of increases in the quantity and quality of earnings announcement media coverage. In other words, the media might have tried to fill in for analysts to an extent, but they could not completely fill the same roles.
 
8
See Beyer et al. 2010; Bradshaw et al. 2016; and Kothari et al. 2016 for detailed reviews.
 
9
Garcia (2013) uses a similar methodology and finds that negative tone in two New York Times columns is associated with stock market returns.
 
10
We thank Billett et al. (2017) for sharing their list of firms affected by brokerage mergers and closures.
 
11
All of our inferences are qualitatively similar, although the magnitude of our results decreases slightly, if we instead use a one, two, or four quarter disappearance window.
 
12
Although pre-treatment differences do not compromise our estimator’s internal validity, Roberts and Whited (2013) illustrate how different pre-treatment levels of the outcome variable can increase the estimator’s sensitivity to functional form choices. In their example, considering the level and the log of the outcome variable leads to different conclusions (i.e., treatment effect appears positive in absolute terms but negative in relative terms). However, this is not the case in our setting. In fact, the treatment effect is of similar economic and statistical magnitude whether we consider the level or the log of media coverage (untabulated).
 
13
We include match fixed effects to avoid understated standard errors due to the dependence from including the same observation multiple times in our sample (Thompson 2011; Muslu et al. 2014; Carlin et al. 2005; Li et al. 2012). Our inferences are similar if we instead allow each firm-year in the sample only once and drop match fixed effects (see Section 4.7 and Table 9).
 
14
Our results are actually slightly more statistically significant if we instead cluster by firm (untabulated) to address concerns about the bad properties of double-clustered standard errors when there are relatively few periods. Note that this concern is not as severe in our study because our analysis is at the year-quarter level over 10 years, meaning that we have 40 periods over which to cluster.
 
15
Because there are no flash articles in the Newswire = 0 outlets, we omit #Prior Flash from the set of controls in this analysis to avoid perfect collinearity.
 
16
Consistent with earnings guidance usually being bundled with the earnings announcement, there are 12,080 firm-quarters in our sample with earnings guidance, of which 9,844 (or about 81%) provide earnings guidance at the earnings announcement. We compare the 9,844 “bundled guiders” to the rest of the sample in the analyses reported in this section because our focus is on information available during earnings announcement versus other periods. Our results and inferences are similar, albeit slightly weaker, if we instead compare all 12,080 guidance observations to the rest of the sample (untabulated).
 
17
We thank Kimball Chapman for sharing his data on investor relations officers.
 
18
We reach similar conclusions if we instead follow prior research (e.g., Chen et al. 2020) by partitioning the sample into firms with five or fewer analysts and more than five analysts. However, we acknowledge that the cutoff of five is arbitrary and lacks a theoretical underpinning.
 
19
While this evidence is necessary and gives us some confidence that parallel trends would have continued absent treatment, it is still insufficient to ensure the endogeneity problem has been solved. We have tried to further reduce the possibility that endogeneity explains our results by matching, including a host of control variables, and showing that the treatment effect varies across firms in the direction predicted by economic theory.
 
20
For example, RavenPack classifies about 11% of the flash articles in the Dow Jones edition as relating to “analyst ratings.”.
 
21
Following Rosenbaum and Rubin (1985, Section 3.4), we match treatment observations to controls within a propensity score caliper of 0.25.
 
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Metadaten
Titel
The media response to a loss of analyst coverage
verfasst von
Nicholas Guest
Jaewoo Kim
Publikationsdatum
13.11.2023
Verlag
Springer US
Erschienen in
Review of Accounting Studies
Print ISSN: 1380-6653
Elektronische ISSN: 1573-7136
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11142-023-09809-1