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* Corresponding author. Tel.: (734) 764-2325; fax: (734) 936-0282; e-mail: sloanr@umich.

edu
¹This paper has benefited from the comments of seminar participants at the Australian Graduate
School of Management, the University of Chicago, the University of Rochester’s Journal of
Accounting and Economics Conference and the University of Texas at Austin. We are grateful for the
comments of Andrew Alford, Brian Bushee, Ilia Dichev, John Hand, Trevor Harris, Bob Kaplan,
S.P. Kothari (the editor), James Myers and Scott Richardson. We are particularly grateful for the
detailed comments and suggestions of Bill Beaver (the referee and discussant) and Jim Ohlson (see
Ohlson, 1998). We thank I/B/E/S for the use of analyst forecast data. All views and errors are our
own.
Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1—34
An empirical assessment of the residual income
valuation model¹
Patricia M. Dechow, Amy P. Hutton, Richard G. Sloan*
School of Business Administration, University of Michigan, 701 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor,
MI 48109-1234, USA
Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02163, USA
Received 1 October 1997; received in revised form 1 October 1998
Abstract
This paper provides an empirical assessment of the residual income valuation model
proposed in Ohlson (Ohlson, J.A., 1995. Earnings, book values and dividends in security
valuation. Contemporary Accounting Research 11, 661—687). We point out that existing
empirical research relying on Ohlson’s model is similar to past research relying explicitly
on the dividend-discounting model. We establish that the key original empirical impli-
cations of Ohlson’s model stem from the information dynamics that link current in-
formation to future residual income. Our empirical results generally support Ohlson’s
information dynamics. However, we find that our empirical implementation of Ohlson’s
model provides only minor improvements over existing attempts to implement the
dividend-discounting model by capitalizing short-term earnings’ forecasts in perpetu-
ity. 1999 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
JEL classification: M41; G14
Keywords: Capital markets; Valuation models
0165-4101/99/$ — see front matter 1999 Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 1 6 5 - 4 1 0 1 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 0 4 9 - 4
` See Palepu et al. (1996) for a discussion of the application of the model to equity valuation.
1. Introduction
A recent paper by Ohlson (1995) has stimulated interest in the residual income
formulation of the dividend discounting valuation model. This development has
potentially important implications for empirical researchers, as Ohlson’s model
specifies the relation between equity values and accounting variables such as
earnings and book value. Existing empirical research has generally provided
enthusiastic support for the model, and the model is now proposed as an
alternative to the discounted cash flow model in equity valuation.` Existing
empirical research argues that the model breaks new ground on two fronts.
First, the model predicts and explains stock prices better than the models based
on discounting short-term forecasts of dividends and cash flows (Bernard, 1995;
Penman and Sougiannis, 1996; Francis et al., 1997). Second, the model provides
a more complete valuation approach than popular alternatives (Frankel and
Lee, 1998).
In this paper, we evaluate the empirical implications of Ohlson’s model.
Central to our analysis is the incorporation of the residual income information
dynamics in Ohlson (1995). Past empirical applications of the residual income
valuation model ignore Ohlson’s information dynamics. In many cases, the
resulting valuation models are similar to past applications of the dividend-
discounting model that capitalize current or forecasted earnings, but make no
appeal to book value or residual income (e.g., Whitbeck and Kisor, 1963;
Malkiel and Cragg, 1970; Kothari and Zimmerman, 1995).
Consistent with Ohlson’s information dynamics, we find that residual income
follows a mean reverting process. In addition, we show that the rate of mean
reversion is systematically associated with firm characteristics suggested by
accounting and economic analysis. The rate of mean reversion is decreasing in
the quality of earnings, increasing in the dividend payout ratio and correlated
across firms in the same industry. We also find that incorporating information in
analysts’ forecasts of earnings into the information dynamics increases forecast
accuracy. This result highlights the importance of information other than
current residual income in forecasting future residual income.
Our pricing tests indicate that stock prices partially reflect the mean reversion
in residual income. An important implication of this result is that book value
conveys additional information over earnings in explaining contemporaneous
stock prices. However, we also find that book value provides very little addi-
tional information about stock prices beyond that contained in analysts’ fore-
casts of next year’s earnings. This result is somewhat surprising, because
analysts’ forecasts of next year’s earnings do not fully capture the long-term
mean reversion in residual income. Further tests help reconcile these seemingly
2 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
contradictory results by suggesting that observed stock prices seem to display
a lagged response to the long-term mean reversion in residual income.
We conclude that Ohlson’s formulation of the residual income valuation
model provides a parsimonious framework for incorporating information in
earnings, book value and earnings forecasts in empirical research. We illustrate
how many of the valuation relations implicit in past empirical research can be
considered as special cases of Ohlson’s model. However, we also find that past
earnings and book value convey relatively little information about firm value
beyond that reflected in analysts’ forecasts of next year’s earnings. Thus, while
the model provides a unifying framework for earnings-based valuation research,
our efforts at implementing the model provide only modest improvements in
explanatory power over past empirical research using analysts’ earnings fore-
casts in conjunction with the traditional dividend-discounting model. Neverthe-
less, an important shortcoming of past research is that the relation between
earnings forecasts and future dividends has been specified in an ad hoc fashion.
By formalizing the information dynamics, Ohlson’s model provides a guiding
framework for future valuation research.
The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews
Ohlson’s formulation of the residual income valuation model and identifies the
model’s empirical implications. Section 3 describes our research design and
variable measurement. Section 4 presents the empirical results and Section 5
concludes.
2. Model development
This section provides an empirically oriented review of the residual income
valuation model developed in Ohlson (1995). Our review emphasizes that the
model is a restated and restricted version of the standard dividend-discounting
model. Empirical applications of the model that ignore Ohlson’s restrictions on
the time-series properties of residual income are difficult to distinguish from
empirical applications based on the standard dividend discounting model. We
illustrate this point with reference to existing empirical research employing the
residual income valuation model. We complete the section by outlining the key
issues in the empirical implementation of Ohlson’s valuation model.
2.1. Model review
The model is comprised of three basic assumptions. First, price is equal to the
present value of expected dividends:
P
R
"
`

O¯¹
E
R
[d
R>O
]
(1#r)O
, (1)
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 3
where P
R
is the price of the firm’s equity at time t, d
R
is net dividends paid at time
t, r is the (assumed constant) discount rate, E
R
[ ] is the expected value operator
conditioned on date t information.
Second, the clean surplus accounting relation:
b
R
"b

#x
R
!d
R
, (2)
where b
R
is the book value of equity at time t, and x
R
is earnings for the period
from t!1 to t.
This assumption allows future dividends to be expressed in terms of future
earnings and book values. Combining the clean surplus relation in Eq. (2) with
the dividend discounting model in Eq. (1) yields:
P
R
"
`

O¯¹
E
R
[b
R>O¹
#x
R>O
!b
R>O
]
(1#r)O
. (3)
Simple algebraic manipulation allows Eq. (3) to be rewritten as
P
R
"b
R
#
`

O¯¹
E
R
[x
R>O
!r.b
R>O¹
]
(1#r)O
!
E
R
[b
R>`
]
(1#r)`
. (4)
The final term in Eq. (4) is assumed to be zero, and ‘residual income’ or
‘abnormal earnings’ is defined as
x
R
"x
R
!r.b

so that price can be expressed as the sum of book value and the present value of
future abnormal earnings:
P
R
"b
R
#
`

O¯¹
E
R
[x
R>O
]
(1#r)O
. (5)
Eq. (5) is the residual income version of the dividend-discounting model. It is
important to note that Eq. (5) is just a restatement of the dividend-discounting
model which in no way depends on the properties of accounting numbers other
than through the clean surplus relation. For example, given a stream of future
dividends, the value of b
R
and the values all the x
R>O
s could be picked as random
numbers. So long as the b
R>O
s are updated according to Eq. (2), the valuation
relation in Eq. (5) will yield the present value of the dividend stream. Another
way of illustrating the independence of Eq. (5) from accrual accounting concepts
is to redefine b
R
as the firm’s cash balance at the end of period t and x
R
as the net
effect of all non-dividend cash flows for period t. The resulting variables clearly
satisfy the clean surplus relation embodied in Eq. (2), and so the resulting
‘residual cash flow valuation model’ is also a legitimate reformulation of the
dividend discounting formula. Thus, if accrual accounting is incrementally
useful over cash accounting in the valuation process, its usefulness must stem
from properties in addition to the clean surplus assumption.
4 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
` Similar terminal value assumptions are used by Francis et al. (1997), Lee et al. (1998) and
Penman and Sougiannis (1996).
From an empirical standpoint, Eq. (5) leaves the researcher in much the same
position as the dividend-discounting model. The valuation relation cannot be
implemented without estimates of future book values. In order to estimate
future book values, the researcher must estimate future dividends. However,
once future dividends are estimated, the book value and earnings estimates
become redundant, and the researcher may just as well have used the dividend-
discounting model in Eq. (1).
The above point is subtle, and overlooking it can lead empiricists to imple-
ment the residual income valuation model by incorporating explicit estimates of
future dividends, without realizing that this makes the appeal to the residual
income formulation of the dividend discounting model somewhat redundant.
The point is illustrated by a recent application of the residual income valuation
model in Frankel and Lee (1998). They implement Eq. (5) by forecasting abnor-
mal earnings for three periods and taking the last period in perpetuity as
follows:`
P
R
"b
R
#
f (1)
R
!r.b
R
(1#r)
#
f (2)
R
!r.b(1)
R
(1#r)`
#
f (3)
R
!r.b(2)
R
(1#r)`.r
,
where f (i)
R
is the period t consensus analyst forecast of earnings for period t#i,
b(i)
R
is b(i!1)
R
#f (i)
R
!d(i)
R
(the period t forecast of book value for period t#i),
and d(i)
R
is period t forecast of dividends for period t#i.
As a matter of algebra, this valuation expression reduces to
P
R
"
d(1)
R
(1#r)
#
d(2)
R
(1#r)`
#
f (3)
R
(1#r)`.r
.
Thus, the valuation model can be viewed as an application of the dividend-
discounting formula in which explicit forecasts of dividends are provided for
the first two periods and dividends are assumed to equal the forecast of period
t#3 earnings thereafter. The valuation model is readily interpretable in the
context of the original dividend-discounting model, and the appeal to the
residual income formulation of the dividend-discounting model is redundant. It
is also noteworthy that the book value of equity drops out of this particular
model.
The redundancy of the residual income valuation model applies more gener-
ally to studies that generate explicit forecasts of earnings and book values (and
hence dividends) for several periods, and then use a terminal value assumption
to complete the valuation (e.g., Frankel and Lee, 1998; Francis et al., 1997).
Penman (1997) demonstrates how some of the more common terminal value
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 5
assumptions employed in the residual income valuation model are readily
interpretable in the context of the standard dividend-discounting framework.
Thus, while the residual income formulation of the dividend-discounting model
may have intuitive appeal because of its focus on accounting numbers, it
provides no new empirical implications in and of itself.
Both Ohlson (1995) and Lundholm (1995) emphasize that the original empiri-
cal implications of Ohlson’s model depend critically on the third and final
assumption regarding the abnormal earnings information dynamics. This as-
sumption places restrictions on the standard dividend-discounting model. From
a theoretical perspective, the firm is still being valued by discounting future
dividends. However, the third assumption specifies the nature of the relation
between current information and the discounted value of future dividends.
Ohlson’s third assumption is that abnormal earnings satisfy the following
modified autoregressive process:
x
R>¹
"x
R
#v
R
#
¹R>¹
, (6a)
v
R>¹
"v
R
#
`R>¹
, (6b)
where v
R
is information about future abnormal earnings not in current abnormal
earnings,
GR
is the unpredictable, mean zero disturbance term, and and are
fixed persistence parameters that are non-negative and less than one.
Combining the residual income valuation model in Eq. (5) with the informa-
tion dynamics in Eqs. (6a) and (6b) yields the following valuation function:
P
R
"b
R
#
¹
x
R
#
`
v
R
, (7)
where
¹
"/(1#r!) and
`
"(1#r)/[(1#r!)(1#r!)].
This valuation function does not require explicit forecasts of future dividends,
nor does it require additional assumptions about the computation of ‘terminal
value’. The information dynamics in Eqs. (6a) and (6b) along with the valuation
function in Eq. (7) embody the original empirical implications of Ohlson (1995).
2.2. Empirical implementation
Empirical implementation of the information dynamics in Eqs. (6a) and (6b)
and the valuation function in Eq. (7) requires three variables (b
R
, x
R
and v
R
) and
three parameters (, and r) to be provided as inputs. The first two variables,
book value (b
R
) and earnings (x
R
), are readily available and easily measured. The
remaining variable, v
R
, and the three parameters are more difficult to measure.
Turning first to v
R
, it is well established that prices reflect information about
future earnings that is not contained in current earnings. Attempts to incorpor-
ate this other information into valuation analyses date back at least as far as
Beaver et al. (1980). Eq. (6a) indicates that Ohlson defines his other information
variable, v
R
, as the difference between the conditional expectation of abnormal
6 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
" We are grateful to Jim Ohlson for suggesting this procedure for measuring v
R
(see Ohlson, 1998).
earnings for period t#1 based on all available information and the expectation
of abnormal earnings based only on current period abnormal earnings:
v
R
"E
R
[x
R>¹
]!x
R
.
Note that the conditional expectation of period t#1 abnormal earnings is
equal to the conditional expectation of period t#1 earnings less the product of
period t book value and the discount rate. We measure the period t conditional
expectation of period t#1 earnings using the consensus analyst forecast of
period t#1 earnings, denoted f
R
, so that
E
R
[x
R>¹
]"f
R
"f
R
!r.b
R
.
The other information, v
R
can then be measured as"
v
R
"f
R
!x
R
.
Finally, values for the three parameters , and r, must be established. We use
the average historical return on equities to measure r. We measure and using
their historical unconditional sample estimates. The estimation procedure is
described in more detail in Section 3. We refer to these estimates as and S,
respectively. We also develop a conditional forecast of using characteristics
suggested by accounting and economic analysis, which we refer to as . Details
of the estimation procedure are again provided in Section 3. The characteristics
that we use are described in more detail below.
The persistence of abnormal earnings is a function of the persistence of the
abnormal accounting rate of return and the growth rate in book value. Thus,
variables that forecast the persistence of accounting rates of return and the
growth rate in book value will determine . The extant accounting literature has
identified a number of factors affecting the persistence of accounting rates of
return. First, Brooks and Buckmaster (1976) and Freeman et al. (1982) provide
evidence that extreme levels of earnings and extreme accounting rates of return
mean revert more quickly. Thus, we expect that will be smaller for firms with
extreme abnormal accounting rates of return. Second, it is well established that
non-recurring special items, such as restructuring charges and asset write-
downs, are less likely to persist (e.g., Fairfield et al., 1996), so we expect that
will be lower for firms with extreme levels of special items. Third, Sloan (1996)
establishes that accounting rates of return are less likely to persist for firms with
extreme levels of operating accruals, so we expect that will be lower for firms
with extreme levels of operating accruals. Economic analysis points us to two
factors that are expected to relate to the persistence of abnormal earnings. First,
dividend policy serves as an indicator of expected future growth in the book
value of equity. Firms with growth opportunities tend to have lower payout
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 7
ratios. (e.g., Fazzari et al., 1988; Anthony and Ramesh, 1992). Thus, we expect
that firms with low payout policies will experience growth in the book value of
equity in the future, resulting in a higher . Second, we predict that a variety of
industry-specific factors should influence the persistence of abnormal earnings.
In particular, numerous studies suggest a link between industry structure and
firm profitability (e.g., Scherer, 1980; Ahmed, 1994). We assume that the effect of
industry specific factors should be relatively stable over time. We therefore
expect that the persistence of abnormal earnings should be increasing in the
historical persistence of abnormal earnings for firms in the same industry.
3. Research design
3.1. Model evaluation
We evaluate the empirical implications of Ohlson’s residual income valuation
model relative to several competing accounting-based valuation models. The
competing valuation models generally correspond to valuation models that
have been used in previous empirical research, and we show that they can all be
considered as special cases of Ohlson’s model. Our empirical analysis focuses on
the improvements provided by Ohlson’s model over these simpler and more
restrictive models. The additional restrictions range from ignoring the ‘other
information’ in analysts’ forecasts of earnings altogether, to setting the persist-
ence parameters and to their polar extremes of 0 and 1. The competing
valuation models are summarized in Fig. 1.
The rows of Fig. 1 each summarize valuation models that make alternative
assumptions about the value of the abnormal earnings persistence parameter,
. The four rows consider values for of 0, 1, the unconditional estimate ()
and the conditional estimate (), respectively. The columns of Fig. 1 each
summarize valuation models that make alternative assumptions about the other
information variable, v
R
. The first column ignores other information altogether,
and is therefore restricted to valuation models based on past abnormal earnings
alone. The remaining three columns summarize valuation models that incorpor-
ate the other information variable into the valuation analysis. The columns
differ with respect to the assumed value of the other information persistence
parameter, . The three columns consider values for of 0, 1 and the uncondi-
tional estimate, S, respectively. Note that we superscript by the abnormal
earnings persistence parameter, . This is because we estimate S from a v
R
autoregression, and the measurement of v
R
depends on the value used for .
A priori, we are able to rule out several of the combinations of assumptions
about the parameters and . First, we rule out the use of with models
incorporating the other information variable, v
R
. We do this because several of
the conditioning variables relate to short-term mean reversion in abnormal
8 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
` For example, if current abnormal earnings consist of a large negative special item, then we would
expect earnings to be temporarily low this period, resulting in a low conditional persistence
parameter, . However, we do not expect that a corresponding special item will be reported in next
period’s earnings. Thus, it makes little sense to apply the low conditional persistence of this period’s
abnormal earnings to the expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings.
earnings that is not necessarily expected to persist beyond the next period. Thus,
it makes little sense to apply the conditional persistence parameter for this
period’s abnormal earnings to the conditional expectation of next period’s
abnormal earnings.` Second, we rule out cases where one of the persistence
parameters is assumed to be 1 and the other persistence parameter is assumed to
be strictly positive. This combination of assumptions implies that abnormal
earnings are nonstationary. We find this implication unappealing from an
economic standpoint, as it suggests that abnormal profit opportunities will
never be competed away. This implication is also inconsistent with past empiri-
cal evidence suggesting that accounting rates of return are mean reverting
(Freeman et al., 1982; Fairfield et al., 1996).
Cells in Fig. 1 corresponding to one of the valuation models that we rule out
above are labeled ‘Not considered’. The remaining cells, list both the expectation
of next period’s abnormal earnings and the valuation function implied by the
corresponding valuation model. Below, we briefly discuss each of the valuation
models and provide examples of prior research using the valuation models.
"0, ignore other information
This model assumes that expectations of future abnormal earnings are based
solely on information in current abnormal earnings and that abnormal earnings
are purely transitory. Consequently, expected future abnormal earnings are zero
and price is equal to book value. This restricted version of Ohlson’s model
corresponds to valuation models in which accounting earnings are assumed to
measure ‘value creation’ (e.g., Easton and Harris, 1991). Variants of this valu-
ation model are implicit in many ‘levels’ studies in which market values are
regressed on book values (e.g., Barth, 1991).
"1, ignore other information
This model assumes that expectations of future abnormal earnings are based
solely on current abnormal earnings and that abnormal earnings persist indefi-
nitely. These assumptions imply that expected abnormal earnings equal current
abnormal earnings and price equals current earnings capitalized in perpetuity
plus any reinvested period t earnings. The intuition for including reinvested
period t earnings is that they will increase the book value base that is available
to generate earnings in the next period. This special case of Ohlson’s model
corresponds closely to the popular earnings capitalization valuation model in
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 9
10 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
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P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 11
which earnings are assumed to follow a random walk and the future dividend
payout ratio is assumed to be 100% (e.g., Kothari, 1992; Kothari and Zimmer-
man, 1995). The model is considered in more detail in Ohlson (1991). An
important feature of the model is that book value does not enter the valuation
function.
", ignore other information
This model assumes that expectations of future abnormal earnings are based
solely on current abnormal earnings, and that abnormal earnings mean revert at
their unconditional historical rate. Expected abnormal earnings equal current
abnormal earnings multiplied by the persistence parameter, . Price is a linear
function of book value and current abnormal earnings. The relative weight on
book value (abnormal earnings) is decreasing (increasing) in the persistence
parameter, ". Thus, this model combines elements of the two preceding
models.
", ignore other information
This model is identical to the model discussed directly above, except that the
unconditional estimate of the persistence parameter () is replaced by the
conditional estimate of the persistence parameter ().
"0, "0
This valuation model incorporates the other information in the conditional
forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings, but assumes that both abnormal
earnings and the other information variable are purely transitory. Expected
abnormal earnings are equal to the consensus analyst forecast of abnormal
earnings. Note that expected abnormal earnings equal the consensus analyst
forecast of abnormal earnings by construction for all of the models incorporat-
ing the other information variable. Price is equal to book value plus the
discounted value of the forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings. Abnormal
earnings have no implications for firm value beyond next period, because
forecasted abnormal earnings are assumed to be purely transitory. Consequently,
current book value receives a heavy weighting in the valuation function. This
model corresponds to Penman and Sougiannis’ (1996) application of the residual
income valuation model with a one period horizon and no terminal value.
"1, "0
Unlike the prior model, this model assumes that forecasted abnormal earn-
ings persist indefinitely, so price is equal to the forecast of next period’s earnings
capitalized in perpetuity. Variants of this model have long been popular in
empirical applications of the dividend-discounting model. For example, Whit-
beck and Kisor (1963) and Vander Weider and Carleton (1988) model the ratio
of price to the consensus analyst forecast of next period earnings as a function of
12 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
the dividend payout ratio and expected growth in earnings. More recently, this
model has formed the basis for the computation of terminal values in empirical
applications of the residual income valuation model using finite horizon data.
Frankel and Lee (1998), Lee et al. (1998), Penman and Sougiannis (1996) and
Francis et al. (1997) all compute terminal value by assuming that abnormal
earnings in the terminal year either remain constant in perpetuity, or grow at
some nominal rate (e.g., 4%). Note, however, that this model does not allow for
mean reversion in abnormal earnings, and so does not place any weight on
current book value in the valuation function.
", "0
This model allows for gradual mean reversion in next period’s expected
abnormal earnings by assuming that equals its historical unconditional value.
Price is a linear function of book value and the forecast of next period’s
abnormal earnings. The relative weight on book value (forecasted abnormal
earnings) is decreasing (increasing) in the persistence parameter, ". Thus,
this model combines elements of the two preceding models. While this model is
appealing in that it combines analysts’ forecast data with information in book
value, it has received little attention in the empirical literature. Bernard (1995)
captures the spirit of this model by regressing price on book value and short-
term forecasts of abnormal earnings.
"0, "1
This valuation model is identical to the model obtained by assuming that
("1, "0), which is discussed above. The intuition for this result is that
"0 implies that v measures the complete expectation of next period’s abnor-
mal earnings. Assuming that "1 then has the effect of allowing the expectation
of next period’s abnormal earnings to persist indefinitely. More generally, note
that the valuation function is always symmetric in and (see Ohlson, 1998).
"0, "S
The symmetry of the valuation function implies that this valuation model is
identical to the model obtained by assuming that (", "0), which is
discussed above. One apparent difference between the two models that is evident
from Fig. 1 is the substitution of S for in the valuation function. The
difference is reconciled by noting that when "0, v captures the entire expecta-
tion of next period’s abnormal earnings, so that S reflects the persistence of next
period’s abnormal earnings.
", "S
The final valuation model sets both and equal to their historical uncondi-
tional values. This model represents our best attempt to implement the residual
income valuation model proposed by Ohlson (1995). Allowing both abnormal
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 13
" An alternative procedure would be to use a definition of earnings that incorporates extraordin-
ary items and to then incorporate the lower persistence of the comprehensive earnings number in the
persistence parameter, . This is the procedure that we adopt for special items.
earnings and the other information variable to each have their own persistence
parameters produces a valuation function in which price is a linear combination
of book value, current abnormal earnings and the other information variable.
This valuation model implies that book value, current abnormal earnings and
the other information embedded in the forecast of next period’s abnormal
earnings all contain incremental information about price.
3.2. Data and variable measurement
The empirical analysis uses three data sources. Historical accounting data are
obtained from the COMPUSTAT files. Our primary empirical analysis uses
annual financial statement data from 1976 to 1995. Stock return data are
obtained from the CRSP daily files. All of our empirical tests employ with-
dividend stock returns and buy-and-hold returns. Analyst forecast data is
obtained from the I/B/E/S files. Combining the three databases gives us a total
of 50,133 observations. The empirical analysis is conducted using per-share
data. All of our tests use earnings measured before extraordinary items. Strictly
speaking, excluding extraordinary items from earnings violates the clean surplus
assumption underlying the theoretical development of the residual income
valuation model. However, from a practical perspective, extraordinary items are
nonrecurring, and so their inclusion is unlikely to enhance the prediction of
abnormal earnings."
Our analysis requires a measure of the discount rate, r. Note that the discount
rate enters all of the models in a similar fashion, and our objective is not to
evaluate alternative methods for estimating discount rates. Moreover, attempts
to document predictable variation in expected returns that are consistent with
the predictions of asset pricing models have met with limited success. Thus, we
use a discount rate of 12%, which approximates the long-run average realized
return on US equities. The relative rankings of the models in the empirical tests
are robust to discount rates ranging from 9% to 15%.
The unconditional value of used in the Ohlson valuation model is estimated
separately for each fiscal year. An abnormal earnings autoregression is esti-
mated using all available observations from previous years, going back as far as
1950. All variables are scaled by market value of equity to control for hetero-
scedasticity, and the 1% most extreme observations are winsorised so that they
do not have an undue influence on the regressions. The resulting estimate of the
autoregressive parameter, , is used to implement the unconditional version of
Ohlson’s model.
14 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
The conditional value of the autoregressive parameter, , is estimated in
a similar manner. We first construct the five variables that are hypothesized to
be associated with cross-sectional variation in the persistence of abnormal
earnings. The first variable (q1) measures the magnitude of abnormal earnings,
and is computed as the absolute value of the ratio of abnormal earnings to
lagged book value. The second variable (q2) measures the magnitude of special
items, and is computed as the absolute value of the ratio of special items to
lagged book value. The third variable (q3) measures the magnitude of operating
accruals, and is measured as the absolute value of the ratio of operating accruals
to lagged total assets. Operating accruals are computed in the standard way
(e.g., Sloan, 1996). The fourth variable (div) measures the dividend payout
policy and is computed as the ratio of dividends to earnings over the most recent
fiscal year. If the dividend payout ratio is negative due to negative earnings, we
use the ratio from the most recent previous year in which the firm reported
positive earnings. If the ratio is greater than one, we set it to one, because
a payout ratio greater than one cannot be sustained indefinitely. The fifth
variable (ind) measures the historical persistence of abnormal earnings for firms
in the same industry. We use two-digit SIC codes to measure industry member-
ship. A finer partitioning results in an unsatisfactorily low number of observa-
tions for some industries. A pooled industry-specific abnormal earnings
autoregression is used to estimate the historical persistence parameter for each
SIC grouping. The regressions use all available observations from 1950 through
the previous year. Next, is estimated via an abnormal earnings autoregres-
sion in which each of the five determinants of are included as interactive
effects:
x
R
"
"
#
¹
x

#
`
(x

q1

)#
`
(x

q2

)#
"
(x

q3

)
#
`
(x

div

)#
"
(x

ind

)#
R
.
A separate regression is estimated for each fiscal year in the sample, with each
regression using all available observations in the sample from previous years,
going back as far as 1950. The estimate for each firm-year is then computed
using the parameter estimates from this regression and the firm-years actual
values of q1, q2, q3, div and ind:
A"
¹
#
`
q1
R
#
`
q2
R
#
"
q3
R
#
`
div
R
#
"
ind
R
.
If one of the variables required to compute is missing, then is set equal
to .
Finally, we estimate S, through an ‘other information’ autoregression, using
the same procedure that we used to estimate . One complication that arises in
the estimation of S is that the measurement of the other information variable, v,
depends on an assumed value of . Recall from Fig. 1 that we only require
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 15
` We also consider the model with ("0, "S). In this case, S measures the persistence of
abnormal earnings, which is given by .
a measure of in the situation where ".` Hence, we need only estimate the
other information autoregression with v measured using . We measure
v
R
using the estimate of obtained from all data available through the end of
period t!1.
4. Empirical results
4.1. Time-series behavior of abnormal earnings
We begin our empirical analysis by evaluating how well the evolution of
abnormal earnings is described by Ohlson’s information dynamics. We test
five aspects of the time-series behavior of abnormal earnings. First, we
examine whether the autoregressive coefficient, , differs reliably from the polar
extremes of 0 and 1. Second, we examine whether the first-order autoregressive
process is sufficient for abnormal earnings by adding additional lags of abnor-
mal earnings. Third, we relax the constraints that the autoregressive process
places on the earnings and book value components of abnormal earnings.
Fourth, we estimate by allowing the autoregressive coefficient on abnormal
earnings to vary as a function of our conditioning variables. Finally, we examine
whether the autoregressive coefficient, , differs reliably from the polar extremes
of 0 and 1.
The first three tests are presented in Table 1 and employ pooled time-series
and cross-sectional regression analysis. Panel A reports the results from a first-
order abnormal earnings autoregression. The autoregressive coefficient,
¹
, is
0.62 with a t-statistic of 138.31. Thus, the hypotheses that
¹
"1 and
¹
"0
respectively are both strongly rejected. The plots in Fig. 2 illustrate the superior
forecasting ability of a time-series model that incorporates the gradual mean
reversion in abnormal earnings. The plots compare the predictive ability of
time-series models setting equal to 0, 1 and , respectively. The figure is
constructed by first ranking all sample observations on deflated abnormal
earnings and equally assigning the ranked observations to deciles. The mean
values of abnormal earnings for the highest and lowest deciles are then plotted
over the next four years, along with the values implied by each of the models. It
can be readily seen that the model using " tracks subsequent abnormal
earnings the most closely. Note also that while the model using "0 does
a poor job of predicting short-term abnormal earnings, it does a relatively good
job of tracking long-term abnormal earnings, because mean reversion in abnor-
mal earnings is almost complete after four years.
16 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 1
Autoregressive properties of abnormal earnings
Panel A: Pooled analysis with one lag
x
GR>¹
"
"
#
¹
x
GR
#
GR>¹

"

¹
R`
!0.02 0.62 0.34
(!29.04) (138.31)
Panel B: Pooled analysis with four lags
x
GR>¹
"
"
#
¹
x
GR
#
`
x
GR¹
#
`
x
GR`
#
"
x
G R`
#
GR>¹

"

¹

`

`

"
R`
!0.01 0.59 0.07 0.01 0.01 0.35
(!12.36) (68.31) (7.50) (0.86) (1.59)
Panel C: ºnconstrained estimation with one lag
x
GR>¹
"
"
#
¹
x
GR
#
`
b
GR¹
#
GR>¹

"

¹

`
R`
0.02 0.47 !0.09 0.40
(17.16) (80.12) (!77.64)
Notes: Sample consists of 50,133 annual observations from 1976 to 1995. All variables are scaled by
the market value of equity at the end of year t. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.
Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as:
x
R
"x
R
!r.b

where x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items for year t, r denotes the discount rate (assumed
to be 12%), and b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.
` Bar-Yosef et al. (1996) investigate the appropriateness of the single lag information dynamic in
a more general framework and find that a second lag achieves modest statistical significance.
Panel B of Table 1 reports results including additional lags of abnormal
earnings to examine whether the first-order autoregressive process is sufficient.
Inclusion of three additional lags of abnormal earnings has a trivial impact,
increasing the explanatory power from 0.34 to 0.35. Only the second lag is
statistically significant (t"7.50), but the coefficient magnitude is only 0.07
versus 0.59 on the first lag. Thus, the first order autoregressive process appears
to provide a reasonable empirical approximation.` Finally, Panel C reports the
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 17
Fig. 2. Comparison of the actual time-series properties of abnormal earnings with the properties
predicted by a first-order autoregressive process with alternative values for the autoregressive
coefficient, . The graph is formed by taking observations in the extreme deciles of abnormal
earnings performance in year 0 and plotting the mean level of abnormal earnings performance for each
decile over the following four years. The sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995.
results of regressions of abnormal earnings on lagged abnormal earnings and the
book value component of lagged abnormal earnings. If the first-order autoreg-
ressive process is appropriate, then the additional book value term should not
load in the regression. However, we see that book value loads with a signifi-
cantly negative coefficient and that the inclusion of book value leads to a decline
in the coefficient on abnormal earnings. Feltham and Ohlson (1995) suggest that
the negative loading on book value can be interpreted as ‘aggressive’ ac-
counting. However, unreported tests reveal that this unconstrained specification
is not significantly helpful in forecasting future abnormal earnings and so it is
not pursued further.
18 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 2
Determinants of the persistence of abnormal earnings
x
R
"
"
#
¹
x

#
`
(x

q1

)#
`
(x

q2

)#
"
(x

q3

)#
`
(x

div

)
#
"
(x

ind

)#
R

"

¹

`

`

"

`

"
R`
Predicted
sign
? ? ! ! ! ! #
!0.02 0.61 !0.37 !1.21 !0.17 !0.11 0.61 0.40
(!30.97) (13.22) (!28.68) (!35.59) (!3.77) (!7.80) (8.10)
Notes: Sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995. Abnormal earnings are scaled by
market value of equity at the end of year t. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.
Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as
x?
R
"x
R
!r.b

where x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t,
r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%), and b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of
year t;
q1
R
is defined as the absolute value of abnormal earnings for year t divided by book value of equity at
the beginning of year t;
q2
R
is defined as the absolute value of special accounting items divided by book value of equity at the
beginning of year t;
q3
R
is defined as the absolute value of accounting accruals divided by total assets at the beginning of
year t;
div
R
is defined as dividends paid during year t divided by earnings before extraordinary items and
discontinued operations for year t;
ind
R
is defined as the first order autoregressive coefficient from an abnormal earnings autoregression
for all firms in the same two digit SIC code as the observation. The autoregression is conducted
using all available firms on the COMPUSTAT annual tapes in the same two digit SIC code from
1950 through year t.
Table 2 analyses variation in the autoregressive coefficient,
¹
. Recall that
this coefficient measures the persistence of abnormal earnings and is hy-
pothesized to have five determinants. Persistence is hypothesized to be lower
when earnings contain more transitory accounting items, measured by the
empirical constructs q1, q2 and q3. Persistence is also hypothesized to be
decreasing in the dividend yield (div) and increasing in the historical level of
industry-wide abnormal earnings persistence (ind). Table 2 reports results from
allowing each of the hypothesized determinants of persistence to enter as
interactive variables in the abnormal earnings autoregression. Inclusion of the
five interactive effects increases the explanatory power of the regression from
0.34 to 0.40. All of the interactive effects enter with their hypothesized signs
and are statistically significant. These results confirm that the persistence of
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 19
Table 3
Autoregressive properties of v
R
, the other information embedded in analysts’ forecasts of next
period’s abnormal earnings
Pooled analysis with one lag
v
R>¹
"
"
#
¹
v
R
#
`R>¹

"

¹
R`
0.01 0.32 0.08
(38.79) (57.94)
Notes: Sample consists of 50,133 annual observations from 1976 to 1995. All variables are scaled by
the market value of equity at the end of year t. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.
The other information variable is defined as
v
R
"f
R
!x
R
where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as
f
R
"f
R
!r.b
R
and abnormal earnings for period t is defined as
x
R
"x
R
!r.b

f
R
denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month
following the announcement of earnings for year t;
is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through year t in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regres-
sion;
x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items for year t;
r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%);
b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.
abnormal earnings varies in a systematic and predictable manner. Conse-
quently, the conditional estimates of that we use to implement Ohlson’s
valuation model should offer additional predictive ability with respect to future
abnormal earnings.
Finally, Table 3 examines the autoregressive properties of the other informa-
tion variable, v. The estimate of the first-order autoregressive coefficient on the
other information,
¹
, is 0.32 with a t-statistic of 57.94. Thus, the other
information mean reverts at about twice the rate of abnormal earnings. How-
ever,
¹
, is also significantly different from the polar extremes of 0 and 1 that are
implicitly assumed in many of the valuation models used in past research. Thus,
we expect that incorporating more precise estimates of this coefficient should
improve our ability to forecast future abnormal earnings and hence predict
contemporaneous stock prices.
20 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 4
Relative forecasting ability of alternative modes for predicting next year’s abnormal earnings
Panel A: Predictions for models ignoring ‘other information’, computed as
E
R
[x
R>¹
]"x
R
Mean forecast
error
Mean absolute
forecast error
Mean square
forecast error
"0 !0.029 0.087 0.033
"1 0.006 0.081 0.032
" !0.008 0.077 0.030
" !0.006 0.076 0.028
Panel B: Prediction for models incorporating ‘other information’, computed as
E
R
[x
R>¹
]"f
R
!0.032 0.052 0.015
Notes: Sample consists of 50,133 observation from 1976 to 1995. Forecast errors are scaled by the
market value of equity at the end of year t.
The forecast error for year t is computed by subtracting the forecast of abnormal earning for year
t#1 from the realized abnormal earnings for year t#1.
Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as
x
R
"x
R
!r.b
R
and the period t consensus analysts’ forecast of abnormal earnings for period t#1 is defined as
f
R
"f
R
!r.b
R
where
x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t;
r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%);
b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of year t;
f
R
denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month
following the announcement of earnings for year t;
is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional
regression;
is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year.
4.2. Prediction of next period abnormal earnings
Statistics on the bias and accuracy of the predictions of next period abnormal
earnings generated by each of the valuation models are reported in Table 4. The
mean forecast error measures forecast bias, while the mean absolute forecast
error and the mean square forecast error measure forecast accuracy. All forecast
errors are deflated by market value and the extreme 1%of the forecast errors are
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 21
winsorised. Panel A reports forecast errors for each of the models that ignore the
other information variable, v, while panel B reports forecast errors for the
models that incorporate v. Recall that the forecast of next period abnormal
earnings is equal to the consensus analyst estimate of abnormal earnings for all
of the models that incorporate v. Hence, we only report one set of forecast errors
for these models. We measure the analysts’ earnings estimates using the I/B/E/S
mean consensus earnings estimates provided in the month immediately follow-
ing the announcement of the annual earnings data used in the time-series
models. This ensures that all of the forecasting variables are measured at similar
points in time.
The mean forecast error is close to zero for the models using "1, "
and ", and is slightly negative for the model using "0 (!0.029). This
latter result indicates that, on average, firms fell slightly short of achieving
a return on equity equal to the assumed cost of capital of 12%. The mean
forecast error is also negative using the consensus analyst forecast, reflecting
over-optimism in analysts’ forecasts. The measures of forecast accuracy indicate
that the predictive abilities of the models ignoring the other information in
analysts’ forecasts are all very close. The model using has only slightly
smaller forecast errors than the model using , indicating that our efforts to
conditionally estimate the persistence parameter add relatively little to the
forecasting ability of the model. The model using "1 is slightly less accurate
than the two versions using estimates of , and the model using "0 is the
least accurate of all. The results in panel B indicate that analysts’ forecasts of
abnormal earnings are much more accurate than the forecasts generated by the
historical time-series models. This result highlights the important role of the
other information embedded in analysts’ forecasts in predicting future abnormal
earnings.
4.3. Explanation of contemporaneous stock prices
The relative ability of the competing valuation models to explain contempor-
aneous stock prices is evaluated in Table 5. Panel A of Table 5 reports results
for the four models ignoring the other information. All of these models generate
large positive mean forecast errors, indicating that they undervalue equities
relative to the stock market. The undervaluation is smallest for the model using
"0 (forecast error"0.291) and greatest for the model using "1 (forecast
error"0.378). The measures of forecast accuracy are similar for the models
using "0, "
S
and ", respectively. However, the model using "1
is considerably less accurate than the other three models. To understand this
result, recall from Fig. 2 that the model using "1 model generates poor
forecasts of long-run abnormal earnings. Since expectations of long-run abnor-
mal earnings are included in the computation of stock price, this model therefore
generates relatively poor forecasts of stock price. The mediocre showing of the
22 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 5
Relative forecasting ability of alternative modles for explaining contemporaneous stock prices
Panel A: Price estimates for models ignoring ‘other information’, computed as
P
R
"b
R
#

1#r!
x
R
Mean forecast
error
Mean absolute
forecast error
Mean square
forecast error
"0 0.291 0.461 0.284
"1 0.378 0.519 0.363
" 0.320 0.461 0.284
" 0.326 0.465 0.291
Panel B: Price estimates for models incorporating ‘other information’, computed as
P
R
"b
R
#

1#r!
x
R
#
1#r
(1#r!)(1#r!)
v
R
("0, "0) 0.285 0.445 0.266
("1, "0) and ("0, "1) 0.227 0.402 0.232
(", "0) and ("0, "S) 0.278 0.427 0.248
(", "S) 0.259 0.419 0.241
Notes: Sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995. Forecast errors are scaled by stock
price at the end of year t
The forecast error for year t is computed by subtracting the forecast stock price for year t from the
observed market stock price at the end of the month following the announcement of earnings for
year t.
Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as
x
R
"x
R
!r.b
R
where x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t,
r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%), and b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of
year t;
is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional
regression;
is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year;
S is the first order autoregression coefficient for the other information variable, v
R
, and is estimated
using all historically available data from1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-
sectional regression.
v
R
is defined as
v
R
"f
R
!x
R
where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as
f
R
"f
R
!r.b
R
f
R
denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month
following the announcement of earnings for year t.
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 23
model using " is somewhat surprising. Table 4 illustrates that this model
generates the most accurate forecasts of next period’s abnormal earnings among
the four models ignoring the other information. Thus, the poor showing of this
model in the pricing tests raises the possibility that stock prices do not reflect
rational expectations of future abnormal earnings. We explore this issue in more
detail later in the paper.
Panel B of Table 5 reports results for the models incorporating the informa-
tion in analysts’ forecasts. The mean forecast errors indicate that these models
also undervalue relative to the market. However, the undervaluations are not as
large as they were for the models ignoring other information. The undervalu-
ations are surprising, because the results in Table 3 indicate that the analysts’
forecasts of future abnormal earnings are overoptimistic. All of the models
incorporating the other information have lower forecast errors than the models
using historical data. These results are consistent with the superior predictive
accuracy of analysts’ forecasts with respect to future abnormal earnings. Of the
models incorporating other information, the model using ("1, "0) pro-
vides the most accurate forecasts of stock prices. Recall from Fig. 1 that this
model simply capitalizes the forecast of next period’s earnings in perpetuity and
ignores information in book value. This result is surprising, because book value
contains additional information about long-run abnormal earnings that should
be rationally reflected in stock prices. Thus, the strong showing of the model
using ("1, "0) in the pricing tests again raises the possibility that stock
prices do not reflect rational expectations of future abnormal earnings.
In Table 6, we investigate the ability of the information variables used in the
valuation models to explain stock prices without imposing the restrictions
implied by the valuation models. Panel A of Table 6 reports results of annual
cross-sectional regressions of stock price on historical book value and earnings.
These two explanatory variables are the information variables used in the
valuation models that ignore other information. Both book value and earnings
load positively and significantly in the regressions. The fact that book value
loads in addition to earnings indicates that book value contains value relevant
information beyond that already in earnings. We can obtain further insights
from the regressions by comparing the estimated coefficients to values implied
by Ohlson’s model in conjunction with representative parameter values. The
formulae for the predicted valuation coefficients on book value and earnings are
taken from Ohlson (1995), (p. 670). Using r"12% (long-run historical average)
and "0.62 (historical average from (Table 1) gives:

¹
"1!r./(1#r!)"0.85; and

`
"(#.r)/(1#r!)"1.39.
The corresponding mean values (standard errors) on the empirical regression
coefficients are
¹
"0.40 (0.074) and
`
"3.88 (0.262). Thus, stock prices appear
24 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 6
Unconstrained regressions of stock price on the variables used in the valuation models
Panel A: Regressions of price on book value and earnings
P
R
"#
¹
b
R
#
`
x
R
#
R
Coeff. Mean Std. err. Min. Q1 Med. Q3 Max
9.72 0.408 7.65 8.07 9.57 10.92 13.63

¹
0.40 0.074 !0.18 0.05 0.51 0.68 0.81

`
3.88 0.262 2.43 3.07 3.68 4.74 6.27
R` 0.40 0.015 0.40 0.51 0.53 0.59 0.67
1Panel B: Regressions of price on book value, earnings and the consensus analyst forecast of next year’s
earnings
P
R
"#
¹
b
R
#
`
x
R
#
`
f
R
#
R
Coeff. Mean Std. Err. Min. Q1 Med. Q3 Max
4.25 0.353 1.64 3.00 4.53 5.09 7.05

¹
0.24 0.035 !0.06 0.09 0.26 0.39 0.42

`
0.05 0.150 !0.82 !0.53 0.03 0.56 1.34

`
5.79 0.256 3.97 4.85 5.89 6.64 8.07
R` 0.69 0.019 0.56 0.61 0.68 0.74 0.86
Notes: Statistics reported are based on the estimates from 20 annual cross-sectional regressions from
1976 to 1995. Sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995. All variables are measured
on a per-share basis.
P
R
denotes the stock price measured at the end of the month following the announcement of earnings
for year t.
x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t.
b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.
f
R
denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month
following the announcement of earnings for year t.
to place too low a weight on book value and too high a weight on earnings. The
value of required to justify the empirical regression coefficients is approxim-
ately "0.85. One interpretation of these results is that they are driven by
a misspecification in Ohlson’s valuation model. An alternative interpretation is
that stock prices do not reflect rational expectations, because investors overesti-
mate the persistence of abnormal earnings.
The regressions reported in panel B of Table 6 employ the information
variables used in the valuation models incorporating other information. In
addition to book value and earnings, these regressions also include the consen-
sus analyst forecast of next period’s earnings. The explanatory power of these
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 25
regressions are considerably higher than in panel A, indicating that the analysts’
forecasts contain incremental information about firm value. Book value loads
positively and significantly, though the coefficient is much smaller than in the
regressions excluding the analyst forecast variable. This result indicates that
book value contains some value relevant information beyond that in analysts’
forecasts of next year’s earnings. Earnings loads with a small and statistically
insignificant coefficient, suggesting that analysts’ forecast of next year’s earnings
subsume value relevant information in current earnings. Finally, the analysts’
forecast of next year’s earnings loads with a positive and statistically significant
coefficient.
We can again obtain further insights from the regressions by comparing the
estimated coefficients to values implied by Ohlson’s model in conjunction with
representative parameter values. The formulae for the predicted valuation
coefficients on book value and earnings are from Ohlson (1998) (p. 14). Using
r"12% (long-run historical average) and "0.62 (historical average from
Table 1) and "0.32 (historical average from Table 3) gives:

¹
"[(1#r)(1!)(1!)]/[(1#r!)(1#r!)]"0.72,

`
"[!(1#r)..]/[(1#r!)(1#r!)]"!0.55, and

`
"(1#r)/[(1#r!)(1#r!)]"2.80.
The corresponding mean values (standard errors) on the empirical regression
coefficients are
¹
"0.24 (0.035),
`
"0.05 (0.150) and
`
"5.79 (0.256). Thus,
stock prices place too low a weight on book value and too high a weight on the
analysts’ forecast of next year’s earnings. For example, a (,) combination of
approximately (0.95,0.00) would be required to approximate the empirical
regression coefficients. One interpretation of these results is that they are driven
by a misspecification in Ohlson’s valuation model. An alternative interpretation
is that stock prices do not reflect rational expectations, because investors tend to
overestimate the persistence of short-termearnings forecasts. We investigate this
possibility in the next section.
4.4. Prediction of future stock returns
Thus far, our pricing tests have focused on the ability of the competing
valuation models to predict contemporaneous stock prices. In this section, we
consider whether the values implied by the competing models are able to predict
future stock returns. These additional tests are motivated by the apparent
inconsistencies between the abnormal earnings prediction results in Table 4 and
the valuation results in Tables 5 and 6. In particular, the results in Table 4
26 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 7
Predictive ability of ratios of implied model values to observed market values with respect to stock
returns over the following year
Panel A: Implied values ignoring ‘other information’, computed as
P
R
"b
R
#

1#r!
x
R
Portfolio "0 "1 " "
1 (Lowest) 0.143 0.159 0.140 0.136
2 0.171 0.143 0.174 0.159
3 0.153 0.161 0.152 0.165
4 0.169 0.158 0.162 0.159
5 0.181 0.160 0.170 0.173
6 0.170 0.166 0.181 0.175
7 0.191 0.182 0.180 0.187
8 0.196 0.202 0.197 0.194
9 0.206 0.222 0.203 0.212
10 (Highest) 0.215 0.235 0.234 0.235
Hedge 0.072 0.076 0.094 0.099
(t-statistic) (1.94) (2.24) (2.39) (2.44)
indicate that the model using " provides more accurate forecasts of future
abnormal earnings than the models using " and "0. However, the
results in Table 5 indicate that the reverse holds true with respect to the ability
of the models to explain observed stock prices. Moreover, the evidence in
Table 6 is consistent with the expectations embedded in stock prices under-
estimating the mean reversion in abnormal earnings. In the tradition of funda-
mental analysis, we therefore provide tests of whether observed stock prices tend
to revert toward the ‘fundamental’ or ‘intrinsic’ values implied by particular
models. These tests entertain the possibility of temporary stock mispricing that
can be systematically predicted by particular valuation models. The tests are
constructed by taking the ratio of the intrinsic model values to observed equity
values. Decile portfolios are then formed using the ranked ratios. Lower deciles
consist of stocks that are overpriced relative to intrinsic value, and are therefore
expected to experience lower future stock returns. Higher deciles consist of
stocks that are underpriced relative to intrinsic value, and are therefore expected
to experience higher future stock returns. Note that the ratio formed for the
model using "0 is just the book-to-market ratio, while the ratio formed for
the model using "1 is proportional to the earnings-to-price ratio. The
predictive ability of these ratios with respect to future stock returns is already
well documented.
The results are presented in Table 7. Panel A reports the one-year-ahead
returns for ratios formed on the valuation models ignoring other information.
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 27
Table 7 (continued)
Panel B: Implied values incorporating ‘other information’, computed as
P
R
"b
R
#

1#r!
x
R
#
1#r
(1#r!)(1#r!)
v
R
("1, "0) (", "0)
("0, "0) and and (", "S)
Portfolio ("0, "1) ("0, "S)
1 (Lowest) 0.149 0.157 0.154 0.162
2 0.176 0.145 0.165 0.159
3 0.147 0.154 0.154 0.154
4 0.162 0.177 0.161 0.158
5 0.178 0.179 0.174 0.171
6 0.175 0.173 0.175 0.175
7 0.178 0.181 0.173 0.185
8 0.211 0.210 0.213 0.203
9 0.201 0.208 0.206 0.204
10 (Highest) 0.220 0.210 0.224 0.224
Hedge 0.071 0.054 0.070 0.062
(t-statistic) (1.77) (1.44) (1.71) (1.34)
Notes: Each year, observations are ranked and assigned in equal numbers to deciles based on the ratio
of implied model value to observed market value of equity. Equal-weighted buy-hold stock returns are
then computed for each decile portfolio over the subsequent 12 months, beginning three months after
the end of the fiscal year from which the historical forecast data are obtained. The table reports the
mean of the 20 years of annual portfolio returns. ¹-statistics are based on the time-series standard
errors of the 20 annual portfolio returns. Sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995.
Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as
x
R
"x
R
!r.b
R
,
where x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t,
r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%), and b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of
year t;
is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional
regression;
is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year;
S is the first order autoregression coefficient for the other information variable, v
R
, and is estimated
using all historically available data from1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-
sectional regression.
v
R
is defined as
v
R
"f
R
!x
R
,
where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as
f
R
"f
R
!r.b
R
f
R
denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month
following the announcement of earnings for year t.
28 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
The hedge portfolio return, which is the difference between the return
for portfolio 10 and the return for portfolio 1, summarizes the predictive
ability of each model with respect to future returns. The return interval
begins 3 months after the fiscal year end of the year from which the historical
data is obtained. Statistical inference is conducted using the standard error
of the annual mean hedge portfolio returns over the 20 years in the sample
period. The model using " displays the greatest predictive ability,
with a hedge portfolio return of 9.9% (t"2.44). The model using "
is second, with a hedge portfolio return of 9.4% (t"2.39), while the model
using "1 is third with a hedge portfolio return of 7.6% (t"2.24). The model
using "0 displays the lowest predictive ability, with a hedge portfolio return
of 7.2% (t"1.94). The superior predictive ability with respect to future stock
returns of the model using " potentially explains why this model performs
poorly in the pricing tests (Table 5), despite its superior predictive ability with
respect to future abnormal earnings (Table 4). It appears that the expectations
reflected in stock prices fail to fully anticipate the rate of mean reversion in
abnormal earnings that is captured by this model. However, this explanation
should be interpreted with caution due to the low statistical significance of the
results.
Panel B reports the one-year-ahead returns for ratios computed using valu-
ation models incorporating the other information in analysts’ earnings forecasts.
The hedge portfolio returns are uniformly lower, ranging from 7.1% (t"1.77)
for the model using ("0,"0) to 5.4% (t"1.44) for the model using
("1,"0). These results contrast sharply with the contemporaneous stock
price results in Table 5. While valuation models incorporating information in
analysts’ forecasts have the greatest ability to explain contemporaneous stock
prices, valuation models ignoring this information have the greatest predictive
ability with respect to future stock returns. Moreover, the valuation model using
("1,"0) is the best at explaining contemporaneous stock prices, but the
worst at predicting future stock returns. These relations are exactly what would
be expected if analysts’ earnings estimates are naively incorporated in stock
prices even when they do not fully reflect all information in current abnormal
earnings about future abnormal earnings. However, the results in Table 7 are
indirect and their statistical significance is weak. Moreover, Kothari and
Warner (1997) and Barber and Lyon (1997) provide evidence that statistical tests
using long horizon stock returns are poorly specified. Table 8 therefore reports
results of more direct tests of the hypothesis that investors price predictable
errors in analysts’ forecasts.
The regressions in panel A of Table 8 examine the extent to which each of the
models ignoring other information in analysts’ forecasts detects errors in ana-
lysts’ forecasts of one-period-ahead earnings. The regressions in panel B then
examine whether the errors identified in the analysts’ forecasts appear to be
accompanied by corresponding errors in stock prices. The results in panel
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 29
Table 8
Panel A
Analysis of the relation between forecast errors in abnormal earnings predictions from analysts’
consensus earnings estimates and forecasts of abnormal earnings that ignore the other information
in analysts’ consensus earnings estimates.
The earnings forecasts that ignore the other information are generated by the model.
x
GR>¹
"x
GR
#
GR>¹
. Statistics reported are based on the estimates from 20 annual cross-sectional
regressions from 1976 to 1995. Sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995. All
variables are measured on a per-share basis.
Regression model estimated is
(x
R>¹
!f
R
)"
"
#
¹
(x
R
!f
R
)#e
R>¹
Coeff. Mean Std. error Min. Q1 Med. Q3 Max
"0

"
!0.03 0.005 !0.08 !0.04 !0.03 !0.03 0.00

¹
!0.13 0.083 !0.63 !0.40 !0.16 0.06 0.71
R` 0.05 0.018 0.00 0.01 0.01 0.08 0.26
"1

"
!0.02 0.003 !0.04 !0.03 !0.02 !0.01 0.00

¹
0.40 0.036 0.13 0.29 0.42 0.45 0.64
R` 0.11 0.017 0.01 0.04 0.12 0.16 0.24
"

"
!0.02 0.004 !0.05 !0.04 !0.03 !0.01 0.00

¹
0.42 0.043 0.14 0.25 0.44 0.51 0.74
R` 0.08 0.024 0.01 0.03 0.07 0.12 0.40
"

"
!0.02 0.004 !0.04 !0.03 !0.02 !0.01 0.00

¹
0.48 0.043 0.16 0.35 0.49 0.58 0.76
R` 0.12 0.022 0.01 0.05 0.10 0.16 0.35
A indicate that the models using "1, " and " all identify
systematic errors in analysts’ earnings forecasts. The results in panel B indicate
that these systematic forecast errors are reflected in stock prices, though the
statistical significance of these results is weak. Frankel and Lee (1998) also
report that analysts’ earnings forecasts contain predictable errors that are not
rationally anticipated in stock prices. Thus the hypothesis that investors naively
price predictable errors in analysts’ forecasts provides a promising explanation
for the results obtained in this paper.
30 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
Table 8 (continued)
Panel B
Analysis of the relation between stock returns in the year following the release of analysts’ consensus
forecasts and forecasts of abnormal earnings that ignore the other information in analysts’ consensus
earnings forecasts.
The earnings forecasts that ignore the other information are generated by the model
x
GR>¹
"x
GR
#
GR>¹
. Stock returns are equal-weighted buy—hold returns over the 12 months
beginning three months after the end of the fiscal year from which the historical forecast data are
obtained. Statistics reported are based on the estimates from 20 annual cross-sectional regressions
from 1976 to 1995. Sample consists of 50,133 observations from 1976 to 1995. All variables are
measured on a per-share basis.
Regression model estimated is
Ret
R>¹
"
"
#
¹
(x
R
!f
R
)#e
R>¹
Coeff. Mean Std. error Min. Q1 Med. Q3 Max
"0

"
0.18 0.037 !0.06 0.11 0.14 0.27 0.56

¹
!0.03 0.096 !0.73 !0.36 !0.08 0.28 0.80
R` 0.01 0.001 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.02
"1

"
0.18 0.035 !0.05 0.11 0.15 0.27 0.52

¹
0.07 0.066 !0.05 !0.15 0.01 0.28 0.65
R` 0.01 0.002 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.04
"

"
0.18 0.036 !0.05 0.11 0.15 0.27 0.53

¹
0.10 0.077 !0.44 !0.15 0.01 0.36 0.76
R` 0.01 0.002 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.03
"

"
0.18 0.036 !0.05 0.11 0.16 0.27 0.53

¹
0.14 0.070 !0.34 !0.15 0.05 0.46 0.88
R` 0.01 0.002 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.01 0.04
Notes: Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as
x
R
"x
R
!r.b
R
where x
R
denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t, r denotes
the discount rate (assumed to be 12%), and b
R
denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.
The consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as
f
R
"f
R
!r.b
R
where f
R
denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first
month following the announcement of earnings for year t.
Ret
R>¹
is the equal-weighted, buy—hold, with-dividend stock return over the 12 months beginning
three months after the end of the fiscal year t.
is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional
regression.
is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all
historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year.
P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 31
" We emphasize the word ‘directly’ in this sentence. Forecasts of the earnings and book
value components of abnormal earnings contain a forecast of future dividend payments through
the clean surplus relation. Thus, the researcher must focus directly on forecasting future
abnormal earnings, rather than on forecasting its components. This simplification embodies the
notion that dividend policy is irrelevant to the extent that reinvested earnings generate the cost of
capital.
5. Conclusions
This paper provides an empirical assessment of the residual income valuation
model proposed in Ohlson (1995). We begin by pointing out that existing
empirical applications of the residual income valuation model are generally
similar to past applications of traditional earnings capitalization models. We
argue that the key original empirical implications of Ohlson’s model arise from
the information dynamics that describe the formation of abnormal earnings
expectations. Our empirical tests indicate that while the information dynamics
are reasonably empirically descriptive, a simple valuation model that capitalizes
analysts’ earnings forecasts in perpetuity is better at explaining contempor-
aneous stock prices. Subsequent tests suggest that the superior explanatory
power of the simple capitalization model may arise because investors over-
weight information in analysts’ earnings forecasts and under-weight information
in current earnings and book value.
Despite the ambiguous empirical support for the model, we believe that the
model provides a useful framework for empirical research for several reasons.
First, as shown in this paper, the model provides a unifying framework for
a large number of previous ‘ad hoc’ valuation models using book value, earnings
and short-term forecasts of earnings. In doing so, the model highlights the
implicit assumptions that previous models make about the relation between
current accounting variables and future abnormal earnings. Second, the model
provides a basic framework upon which subsequent research can build. For
example, Feltham and Ohlson (1995) generalize the model to incorporate
growth and accounting conservatism. Third, the focus of the model on the
relation between current information variables and future abnormal earnings is
heuristically appealing. Previous valuation models based on the dividend-
discounting model often make unrealistic assumptions about dividend policy.
For example, Kothari and Zimmerman (1995) assume a 100% payout ratio.
Ohlson’s model illustrates that valuation models focusing directly on forecasting
future abnormal earnings avoid having to forecast the timing of future dividend
payments."
32 P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34
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1. Introduction A recent paper by Ohlson (1995) has stimulated interest in the residual income formulation of the dividend discounting valuation model. This development has potentially important implications for empirical researchers, as Ohlson’s model specifies the relation between equity values and accounting variables such as earnings and book value. Existing empirical research has generally provided enthusiastic support for the model, and the model is now proposed as an alternative to the discounted cash flow model in equity valuation. Existing empirical research argues that the model breaks new ground on two fronts. First, the model predicts and explains stock prices better than the models based on discounting short-term forecasts of dividends and cash flows (Bernard, 1995; Penman and Sougiannis, 1996; Francis et al., 1997). Second, the model provides a more complete valuation approach than popular alternatives (Frankel and Lee, 1998). In this paper, we evaluate the empirical implications of Ohlson’s model. Central to our analysis is the incorporation of the residual income information dynamics in Ohlson (1995). Past empirical applications of the residual income valuation model ignore Ohlson’s information dynamics. In many cases, the resulting valuation models are similar to past applications of the dividenddiscounting model that capitalize current or forecasted earnings, but make no appeal to book value or residual income (e.g., Whitbeck and Kisor, 1963; Malkiel and Cragg, 1970; Kothari and Zimmerman, 1995). Consistent with Ohlson’s information dynamics, we find that residual income follows a mean reverting process. In addition, we show that the rate of mean reversion is systematically associated with firm characteristics suggested by accounting and economic analysis. The rate of mean reversion is decreasing in the quality of earnings, increasing in the dividend payout ratio and correlated across firms in the same industry. We also find that incorporating information in analysts’ forecasts of earnings into the information dynamics increases forecast accuracy. This result highlights the importance of information other than current residual income in forecasting future residual income. Our pricing tests indicate that stock prices partially reflect the mean reversion in residual income. An important implication of this result is that book value conveys additional information over earnings in explaining contemporaneous stock prices. However, we also find that book value provides very little additional information about stock prices beyond that contained in analysts’ forecasts of next year’s earnings. This result is somewhat surprising, because analysts’ forecasts of next year’s earnings do not fully capture the long-term mean reversion in residual income. Further tests help reconcile these seemingly 

See Palepu et al. (1996) for a discussion of the application of the model to equity valuation.

P.M. Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34

3

contradictory results by suggesting that observed stock prices seem to display a lagged response to the long-term mean reversion in residual income. We conclude that Ohlson’s formulation of the residual income valuation model provides a parsimonious framework for incorporating information in earnings, book value and earnings forecasts in empirical research. We illustrate how many of the valuation relations implicit in past empirical research can be considered as special cases of Ohlson’s model. However, we also find that past earnings and book value convey relatively little information about firm value beyond that reflected in analysts’ forecasts of next year’s earnings. Thus, while the model provides a unifying framework for earnings-based valuation research, our efforts at implementing the model provide only modest improvements in explanatory power over past empirical research using analysts’ earnings forecasts in conjunction with the traditional dividend-discounting model. Nevertheless, an important shortcoming of past research is that the relation between earnings forecasts and future dividends has been specified in an ad hoc fashion. By formalizing the information dynamics, Ohlson’s model provides a guiding framework for future valuation research. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews Ohlson’s formulation of the residual income valuation model and identifies the model’s empirical implications. Section 3 describes our research design and variable measurement. Section 4 presents the empirical results and Section 5 concludes.

2. Model development This section provides an empirically oriented review of the residual income valuation model developed in Ohlson (1995). Our review emphasizes that the model is a restated and restricted version of the standard dividend-discounting model. Empirical applications of the model that ignore Ohlson’s restrictions on the time-series properties of residual income are difficult to distinguish from empirical applications based on the standard dividend discounting model. We illustrate this point with reference to existing empirical research employing the residual income valuation model. We complete the section by outlining the key issues in the empirical implementation of Ohlson’s valuation model. 2.1. Model review The model is comprised of three basic assumptions. First, price is equal to the present value of expected dividends:  E [d ] R R>O , P" R (1#r)O O (1)

M. Another way of illustrating the independence of Eq. its usefulness must stem from properties in addition to the clean surplus assumption. (1) yields:  E [b #x !b ] R R>O\ R>O R>O . For example. the valuation R>O relation in Eq. and ‘residual income’ or ‘abnormal earnings’ is defined as x "x !r.b R R R\ so that price can be expressed as the sum of book value and the present value of future abnormal earnings:  E [x ] R R>O . (4) is assumed to be zero. if accrual accounting is incrementally useful over cash accounting in the valuation process. given a stream of future dividends. . (2) R R\ R R where b is the book value of equity at time t. The resulting variables clearly satisfy the clean surplus relation embodied in Eq. (5) will yield the present value of the dividend stream. (3) to be rewritten as (3)  E [x !r. Dechow et al. P "b # (5) R R (1#r)O O Eq. P" R (1#r)O O Simple algebraic manipulation allows Eq. and so the resulting ‘residual cash flow valuation model’ is also a legitimate reformulation of the dividend discounting formula. This assumption allows future dividends to be expressed in terms of future earnings and book values. It is important to note that Eq. Second. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 where P is the price of the firm’s equity at time t.4 P. r is the (assumed constant) discount rate. the clean surplus accounting relation: b "b #x !d . So long as the b s are updated according to Eq. (2) with the dividend discounting model in Eq. P "b # (4) R R (1#r)O (1#r) O The final term in Eq. E [ ] is the expected value operator R conditioned on date t information. d is net dividends paid at time R R t. (2). (5) is just a restatement of the dividend-discounting model which in no way depends on the properties of accounting numbers other than through the clean surplus relation.b ] E [b ] R R>O R>O\ ! R R> . the value of b and the values all the x s could be picked as random R R>O numbers. Thus. (5) is the residual income version of the dividend-discounting model. and x is earnings for the period R R from t!1 to t. (5) from accrual accounting concepts is to redefine b as the firm’s cash balance at the end of period t and x as the net R R effect of all non-dividend cash flows for period t. Combining the clean surplus relation in Eq. (2).

(1). The point is illustrated by a recent application of the residual income valuation model in Frankel and Lee (1998). R b(i) is b(i!1) #f (i) !d(i) (the period t forecast of book value for period t#i). The redundancy of the residual income valuation model applies more generally to studies that generate explicit forecasts of earnings and book values (and hence dividends) for several periods. and overlooking it can lead empiricists to implement the residual income valuation model by incorporating explicit estimates of future dividends.r (1#r) where f (i) is the period t consensus analyst forecast of earnings for period t#i. (5) by forecasting abnormal earnings for three periods and taking the last period in perpetuity as follows: f (2) !r. (1997). P" R (1#r) (1#r) (1#r). In order to estimate future book values. Penman (1997) demonstrates how some of the more common terminal value  Similar terminal value assumptions are used by Francis et al. 1997). R As a matter of algebra.g. the valuation model can be viewed as an application of the dividenddiscounting formula in which explicit forecasts of dividends are provided for the first two periods and dividends are assumed to equal the forecast of period t#3 earnings thereafter. the researcher must estimate future dividends. Francis et al. and the researcher may just as well have used the dividenddiscounting model in Eq. the book value and earnings estimates become redundant. It is also noteworthy that the book value of equity drops out of this particular model. and then use a terminal value assumption to complete the valuation (e. R R R R and d(i) is period t forecast of dividends for period t#i. R R# P "b # R R (1#r) (1#r). The valuation relation cannot be implemented without estimates of future book values. . 1998. However. Eq. without realizing that this makes the appeal to the residual income formulation of the dividend discounting model somewhat redundant.b R R# R R. The above point is subtle. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 5 From an empirical standpoint.b(1) f (3) !r.M.b(2) f (1) !r.P.r Thus. Lee et al. Frankel and Lee. this valuation expression reduces to d(1) d(2) f (3) R # R # R . Dechow et al. and the appeal to the residual income formulation of the dividend-discounting model is redundant. (1998) and Penman and Sougiannis (1996). once future dividends are estimated.. The valuation model is readily interpretable in the context of the original dividend-discounting model. They implement Eq.. (5) leaves the researcher in much the same position as the dividend-discounting model.

Ohlson’s third assumption is that abnormal earnings satisfy the following modified autoregressive process: x " x #v # . are readily available and easily measured. while the residual income formulation of the dividend-discounting model may have intuitive appeal because of its focus on accounting numbers. x and v ) and R R R three parameters ( . Combining the residual income valuation model in Eq. nor does it require additional assumptions about the computation of ‘terminal value’. R R  R  R where " /(1#r! ) and "(1#r)/[(1#r! )(1#r! )]. mean zero disturbance term. as the difference between the conditional expectation of abnormal R . Both Ohlson (1995) and Lundholm (1995) emphasize that the original empirical implications of Ohlson’s model depend critically on the third and final assumption regarding the abnormal earnings information dynamics. However. (5) with the information dynamics in Eqs. (6a) R> R R  R> v " v# . This assumption places restrictions on the standard dividend-discounting model. and the three parameters are more difficult to measure.   This valuation function does not require explicit forecasts of future dividends. (6a) and (6b) yields the following valuation function: (7) P "b # x # v . and r) to be provided as inputs. (6a) and (6b) and the valuation function in Eq. book value (b ) and earnings (x ). and and are earnings. it is well established that prices reflect information about R future earnings that is not contained in current earnings. it provides no new empirical implications in and of itself. (7) embody the original empirical implications of Ohlson (1995). The R R remaining variable. G R fixed persistence parameters that are non-negative and less than one. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 assumptions employed in the residual income valuation model are readily interpretable in the context of the standard dividend-discounting framework. (7) requires three variables (b . Eq. (6a) indicates that Ohlson defines his other information variable. (1980). R Turning first to v . From a theoretical perspective. the third assumption specifies the nature of the relation between current information and the discounted value of future dividends. v . v . Attempts to incorporate this other information into valuation analyses date back at least as far as Beaver et al.2. Empirical implementation Empirical implementation of the information dynamics in Eqs. 2. Thus. (6a) and (6b) along with the valuation function in Eq. The first two variables.M. the firm is still being valued by discounting future dividends.6 P. The information dynamics in Eqs. (6b) R> R  R> where v is information about future abnormal earnings not in current abnormal R is the unpredictable. Dechow et al.

it is well established that non-recurring special items. We measure the period t conditional expectation of period t#1 earnings using the consensus analyst forecast of period t#1 earnings. First.P. First. The estimation procedure is described in more detail in Section 3. The persistence of abnormal earnings is a function of the persistence of the abnormal accounting rate of return and the growth rate in book value. Details of the estimation procedure are again provided in Section 3. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 7 earnings for period t#1 based on all available information and the expectation of abnormal earnings based only on current period abnormal earnings: v "E [x ]! x . denoted f . values for the three parameters . 1998). so we expect that will be lower for firms with extreme levels of operating accruals. variables that forecast the persistence of accounting rates of return and the growth rate in book value will determine . Second.M. We use the average historical return on equities to measure r. and r. must be established. 1996). Economic analysis points us to two factors that are expected to relate to the persistence of abnormal earnings. v can then be measured as R v "f ! x . Dechow et al. (1982) provide evidence that extreme levels of earnings and extreme accounting rates of return mean revert more quickly. The characteristics that we use are described in more detail below. The extant accounting literature has identified a number of factors affecting the persistence of accounting rates of return. Firms with growth opportunities tend to have lower payout  We are grateful to Jim Ohlson for suggesting this procedure for measuring v (see Ohlson. we expect that will be smaller for firms with extreme abnormal accounting rates of return. We measure and using their historical unconditional sample estimates. such as restructuring charges and asset writedowns. R R> R R R The other information.g. Sloan (1996) establishes that accounting rates of return are less likely to persist for firms with extreme levels of operating accruals. dividend policy serves as an indicator of expected future growth in the book value of equity. respectively.b .. We refer to these estimates as  and S. Third. so we expect that will be lower for firms with extreme levels of special items. are less likely to persist (e. R R R> R Note that the conditional expectation of period t#1 abnormal earnings is equal to the conditional expectation of period t#1 earnings less the product of period t book value and the discount rate.. which we refer to as . Thus. Thus. Fairfield et al. R . Brooks and Buckmaster (1976) and Freeman et al. R R R Finally. We also develop a conditional forecast of using characteristics suggested by accounting and economic analysis. so that R E [x ]"f "f !r.

we are able to rule out several of the combinations of assumptions about the parameters and . (e. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 ratios. 1994). 1988. numerous studies suggest a link between industry structure and firm profitability (e. The columns of Fig.1. We do this because several of R the conditioning variables relate to short-term mean reversion in abnormal . The rows of Fig. This is because we estimate S from a v R autoregression. . 1 each summarize valuation models that make alternative assumptions about the value of the abnormal earnings persistence parameter. Our empirical analysis focuses on the improvements provided by Ohlson’s model over these simpler and more restrictive models. Anthony and Ramesh. Dechow et al. R A priori. resulting in a higher . Scherer. Note that we superscript by the abnormal earnings persistence parameter. In particular..g.. Research design 3. 1.8 P. Second. v . 1 each summarize valuation models that make alternative assumptions about the other information variable. We therefore expect that the persistence of abnormal earnings should be increasing in the historical persistence of abnormal earnings for firms in the same industry. . respectively. S. Ahmed. The remaining three columns summarize valuation models that incorporate the other information variable into the valuation analysis. The first column ignores other information altogether.M. 1980. Thus. Fazzari et al. The four rows consider values for of 0. 3. we rule out the use of with models incorporating the other information variable. First. v . 1992). The additional restrictions range from ignoring the ‘other information’ in analysts’ forecasts of earnings altogether. we predict that a variety of industry-specific factors should influence the persistence of abnormal earnings. to setting the persistence parameters and to their polar extremes of 0 and 1. The columns differ with respect to the assumed value of the other information persistence parameter.. we expect that firms with low payout policies will experience growth in the book value of equity in the future. Model evaluation We evaluate the empirical implications of Ohlson’s residual income valuation model relative to several competing accounting-based valuation models. R and is therefore restricted to valuation models based on past abnormal earnings alone. The competing valuation models are summarized in Fig. 1 and the unconditional estimate.g. . We assume that the effect of industry specific factors should be relatively stable over time. and we show that they can all be considered as special cases of Ohlson’s model. and the measurement of v depends on the value used for . 1. The three columns consider values for of 0. respectively. The competing valuation models generally correspond to valuation models that have been used in previous empirical research. the unconditional estimate ( ) and the conditional estimate ( ).

Dechow et al. it makes little sense to apply the low conditional persistence of this period’s abnormal earnings to the expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings. Thus. The intuition for including reinvested period t earnings is that they will increase the book value base that is available to generate earnings in the next period. This combination of assumptions implies that abnormal earnings are nonstationary. it makes little sense to apply the conditional persistence parameter for this period’s abnormal earnings to the conditional expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings. as it suggests that abnormal profit opportunities will never be competed away. we rule out cases where one of the persistence parameters is assumed to be 1 and the other persistence parameter is assumed to be strictly positive. "1.g. . Cells in Fig. if current abnormal earnings consist of a large negative special item.g. "0. expected future abnormal earnings are zero and price is equal to book value. list both the expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings and the valuation function implied by the corresponding valuation model. ignore other information This model assumes that expectations of future abnormal earnings are based solely on current abnormal earnings and that abnormal earnings persist indefinitely. We find this implication unappealing from an economic standpoint. ignore other information This model assumes that expectations of future abnormal earnings are based solely on information in current abnormal earnings and that abnormal earnings are purely transitory. 1991). This restricted version of Ohlson’s model corresponds to valuation models in which accounting earnings are assumed to measure ‘value creation’ (e. Barth. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 9 earnings that is not necessarily expected to persist beyond the next period. we do not expect that a corresponding special item will be reported in next period’s earnings.. 1996). 1991). This special case of Ohlson’s model corresponds closely to the popular earnings capitalization valuation model in  For example. The remaining cells. we briefly discuss each of the valuation models and provide examples of prior research using the valuation models... These assumptions imply that expected abnormal earnings equal current abnormal earnings and price equals current earnings capitalized in perpetuity plus any reinvested period t earnings. However.. Fairfield et al. Variants of this valuation model are implicit in many ‘levels’ studies in which market values are regressed on book values (e. Thus. Easton and Harris. Below. resulting in a low conditional persistence parameter. Second. . Consequently.M. 1 corresponding to one of the valuation models that we rule out above are labeled ‘Not considered’.P. 1982. This implication is also inconsistent with past empirical evidence suggesting that accounting rates of return are mean reverting (Freeman et al. then we would expect earnings to be temporarily low this period.

10 P. Dechow et al.M. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 .

 is the first order autoregression coefficient for the other information variable. R R R where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t.b R R R f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month following the announcement of earnings for year t. v . b denotes book value of equity at the end of year t. Each cell contains the forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings (E [x? ]) and the contemporaneous forecast of stock price (P ) for the respective model. R R> R Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as x "x !r.b . 1.M. Summary of the implications of the accounting-based valuation models examined in the empirical tests. Dechow et al. R  is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression. R r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%).Fig. and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through R the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression. is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year. v is defined as R v "f ! x . / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 f "f !r. R R R where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as P. R 11 .

"0 Unlike the prior model. An important feature of the model is that book value does not enter the valuation function.M. The relative weight on book value (abnormal earnings) is decreasing (increasing) in the persistence parameter. Variants of this model have long been popular in empirical applications of the dividend-discounting model. For example. Note that expected abnormal earnings equal the consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings by construction for all of the models incorporating the other information variable. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 which earnings are assumed to follow a random walk and the future dividend payout ratio is assumed to be 100% (e. Thus. 1995). This model corresponds to Penman and Sougiannis’ (1996) application of the residual income valuation model with a one period horizon and no terminal value. "1. this model combines elements of the two preceding models. "0. . Price is equal to book value plus the discounted value of the forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings. Expected abnormal earnings are equal to the consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings. Price is a linear function of book value and current abnormal earnings. " . 1992. except that the unconditional estimate of the persistence parameter ( ) is replaced by the conditional estimate of the persistence parameter ( ). Kothari and Zimmerman. Expected abnormal earnings equal current abnormal earnings multiplied by the persistence parameter. The model is considered in more detail in Ohlson (1991). "0 This valuation model incorporates the other information in the conditional forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings. Whitbeck and Kisor (1963) and Vander Weider and Carleton (1988) model the ratio of price to the consensus analyst forecast of next period earnings as a function of . and that abnormal earnings mean revert at their unconditional historical rate.. current book value receives a heavy weighting in the valuation function.12 P. Consequently. this model assumes that forecasted abnormal earnings persist indefinitely. Dechow et al. " . because forecasted abnormal earnings are assumed to be purely transitory. but assumes that both abnormal earnings and the other information variable are purely transitory. Kothari. ignore other information This model assumes that expectations of future abnormal earnings are based solely on current abnormal earnings. Abnormal earnings have no implications for firm value beyond next period. " . so price is equal to the forecast of next period’s earnings capitalized in perpetuity.g. ignore other information This model is identical to the model discussed directly above.

" . "0). that this model does not allow for mean reversion in abnormal earnings. Note.P. and so does not place any weight on current book value in the valuation function.M. Frankel and Lee (1998).g. 1998). The relative weight on book value (forecasted abnormal earnings) is decreasing (increasing) in the persistence parameter. or grow at some nominal rate (e. "1 This valuation model is identical to the model obtained by assuming that ( "1. 1 is the substitution of S for  in the valuation function. "0. " . Dechow et al. 4%). (1997) all compute terminal value by assuming that abnormal earnings in the terminal year either remain constant in perpetuity. Thus. " . this model combines elements of the two preceding models. this model has formed the basis for the computation of terminal values in empirical applications of the residual income valuation model using finite horizon data. however. v captures the entire expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings. The difference is reconciled by noting that when "0. This model represents our best attempt to implement the residual income valuation model proposed by Ohlson (1995). / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 13 the dividend payout ratio and expected growth in earnings. More recently. Assuming that "1 then has the effect of allowing the expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings to persist indefinitely. Allowing both abnormal . While this model is appealing in that it combines analysts’ forecast data with information in book value. note that the valuation function is always symmetric in and (see Ohlson.. it has received little attention in the empirical literature. Penman and Sougiannis (1996) and Francis et al. Lee et al. More generally. (1998). "0). "0. "0 This model allows for gradual mean reversion in next period’s expected abnormal earnings by assuming that equals its historical unconditional value. Bernard (1995) captures the spirit of this model by regressing price on book value and shortterm forecasts of abnormal earnings. which is discussed above. " S The symmetry of the valuation function implies that this valuation model is identical to the model obtained by assuming that ( " . The intuition for this result is that "0 implies that v measures the complete expectation of next period’s abnormal earnings. One apparent difference between the two models that is evident from Fig. which is discussed above. so that S reflects the persistence of next period’s abnormal earnings. " S The final valuation model sets both and equal to their historical unconditional values. Price is a linear function of book value and the forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings.

2. An abnormal earnings autoregression is estimated using all available observations from previous years. Thus. and the 1% most extreme observations are winsorised so that they do not have an undue influence on the regressions. Our primary empirical analysis uses annual financial statement data from 1976 to 1995.133 observations. Stock return data are obtained from the CRSP daily files. The relative rankings of the models in the empirical tests are robust to discount rates ranging from 9% to 15%. Combining the three databases gives us a total of 50. The resulting estimate of the autoregressive parameter.14 P. The empirical analysis is conducted using per-share data. current abnormal earnings and the other information variable. Our analysis requires a measure of the discount rate. Historical accounting data are obtained from the COMPUSTAT files.M. Strictly speaking. current abnormal earnings and the other information embedded in the forecast of next period’s abnormal earnings all contain incremental information about price. and our objective is not to evaluate alternative methods for estimating discount rates. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 earnings and the other information variable to each have their own persistence parameters produces a valuation function in which price is a linear combination of book value. we use a discount rate of 12%. All of our empirical tests employ withdividend stock returns and buy-and-hold returns. attempts to document predictable variation in expected returns that are consistent with the predictions of asset pricing models have met with limited success. Moreover. r. is used to implement the unconditional version of Ohlson’s model. extraordinary items are nonrecurring. The unconditional value of used in the Ohlson valuation model is estimated separately for each fiscal year. Note that the discount rate enters all of the models in a similar fashion. Data and variable measurement The empirical analysis uses three data sources. . . All of our tests use earnings measured before extraordinary items. This is the procedure that we adopt for special items. Dechow et al. All variables are scaled by market value of equity to control for heteroscedasticity. from a practical perspective. excluding extraordinary items from earnings violates the clean surplus assumption underlying the theoretical development of the residual income valuation model. and so their inclusion is unlikely to enhance the prediction of abnormal earnings. which approximates the long-run average realized return on US equities. .  An alternative procedure would be to use a definition of earnings that incorporates extraordinary items and to then incorporate the lower persistence of the comprehensive earnings number in the persistence parameter. This valuation model implies that book value. 3. However. going back as far as 1950. Analyst forecast data is obtained from the I/B/E/S files.

because a payout ratio greater than one cannot be sustained indefinitely. The first variable (q1) measures the magnitude of abnormal earnings. The third variable (q3) measures the magnitude of operating accruals.M. One complication that arises in the estimation of S is that the measurement of the other information variable. is estimated in a similar manner. Recall from Fig. then is set equal to . and is computed as the absolute value of the ratio of abnormal earnings to lagged book value.. The regressions use all available observations from 1950 through the previous year. 1996). If the dividend payout ratio is negative due to negative earnings. through an ‘other information’ autoregression. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 15 The conditional value of the autoregressive parameter. using the same procedure that we used to estimate . The fourth variable (div) measures the dividend payout policy and is computed as the ratio of dividends to earnings over the most recent fiscal year. Next. with each regression using all available observations in the sample from previous years.  R\ R\  R\ R\ R A separate regression is estimated for each fiscal year in the sample. and is computed as the absolute value of the ratio of special items to lagged book value. we use the ratio from the most recent previous year in which the firm reported positive earnings.P. q2.g. Sloan. is estimated via an abnormal earnings autoregression in which each of the five determinants of are included as interactive effects: x " # x # (x q1 )# (x q2 )# (x q3 ) R   R\  R\ R\  R\ R\  R\ R\ # (x div )# (x ind )# . going back as far as 1950. A pooled industry-specific abnormal earnings autoregression is used to estimate the historical persistence parameter for each SIC grouping. div and ind: A" # q1 # q2 # q3 # div # ind . Dechow et al. we set it to one. The fifth variable (ind) measures the historical persistence of abnormal earnings for firms in the same industry. We use two-digit SIC codes to measure industry membership. q3. .   R  R  R  R  R If one of the variables required to compute is missing. Operating accruals are computed in the standard way (e. A finer partitioning results in an unsatisfactorily low number of observations for some industries. Finally. 1 that we only require . depends on an assumed value of . and is measured as the absolute value of the ratio of operating accruals to lagged total assets. we estimate S. We first construct the five variables that are hypothesized to be associated with cross-sectional variation in the persistence of abnormal earnings. If the ratio is greater than one. The estimate for each firm-year is then computed using the parameter estimates from this regression and the firm-years actual values of q1. The second variable (q2) measures the magnitude of special items. v.

Third. we examine whether the first-order autoregressive process is sufficient for abnormal earnings by adding additional lags of abnormal earnings. The plots in Fig. The plots compare the predictive ability of time-series models setting equal to 0.M. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 a measure of in the situation where " . Panel A reports the results from a firstorder abnormal earnings autoregression. because mean reversion in abnormal earnings is almost complete after four years. it does a relatively good job of tracking long-term abnormal earnings. Dechow et al. The figure is constructed by first ranking all sample observations on deflated abnormal earnings and equally assigning the ranked observations to deciles. the hypotheses that "1 and "0   respectively are both strongly rejected. The first three tests are presented in Table 1 and employ pooled time-series and cross-sectional regression analysis. Second. We test five aspects of the time-series behavior of abnormal earnings. is  0. Hence. First. Finally. we estimate by allowing the autoregressive coefficient on abnormal earnings to vary as a function of our conditioning variables. differs reliably from the polar extremes of 0 and 1. we examine whether the autoregressive coefficient. Note also that while the model using "0 does a poor job of predicting short-term abnormal earnings.62 with a t-statistic of 138. " S). we need only estimate the other information autoregression with v measured using .  We also consider the model with ( "0. we examine whether the autoregressive coefficient. Fourth. It can be readily seen that the model using "  tracks subsequent abnormal earnings the most closely. Empirical results 4. 1 and .16 P.31. 2 illustrate the superior forecasting ability of a time-series model that incorporates the gradual mean reversion in abnormal earnings. S measures the persistence of abnormal earnings. which is given by . . We measure v using the estimate of  obtained from all data available through the end of R period t!1. . . The mean values of abnormal earnings for the highest and lowest deciles are then plotted over the next four years. Thus. In this case. 4. we relax the constraints that the autoregressive process places on the earnings and book value components of abnormal earnings. along with the values implied by each of the models.1. respectively. Time-series behavior of abnormal earnings We begin our empirical analysis by evaluating how well the evolution of abnormal earnings is described by Ohlson’s information dynamics. . The autoregressive coefficient. differs reliably from the polar extremes of 0 and 1.

but the coefficient magnitude is only 0.59 (68.04)  0.09 (!77.36)  0.01 (!12. Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as: x "x !r.P.86)  0.35. .02 (!29. (1996) investigate the appropriateness of the single lag information dynamic in a more general framework and find that a second lag achieves modest statistical significance.133 annual observations from 1976 to 1995.50)  0.34 17 Panel B: Pooled analysis with four lags x " # x # x # x # x # G R>   G R  G R\  G R\  G R\ G R>  !0. increasing the explanatory power from 0.01 (1. Finally.31) " # x # G R>   G R G R> R 0. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Table 1 Autoregressive properties of abnormal earnings Panel A: Pooled analysis with one lag x  !0. Panel C reports the  Bar-Yosef et al.62 (138. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.07 (7.M. Thus.47 (80.34 to 0.12)  !0.59 on the first lag.35 Panel C: ºnconstrained estimation with one lag x " # x # b # G R>   G R  G R\ G R>  0.59) R 0. Inclusion of three additional lags of abnormal earnings has a trivial impact.b R R R\ where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items for year t. r denotes the discount rate (assumed R to be 12%).07 versus 0. R Panel B of Table 1 reports results including additional lags of abnormal earnings to examine whether the first-order autoregressive process is sufficient.16)  0. Only the second lag is statistically significant (t"7. All variables are scaled by the market value of equity at the end of year t.64) R 0.02 (17. the first order autoregressive process appears to provide a reasonable empirical approximation.40 Notes: Sample consists of 50.31)  0. and b denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.50).01 (0. Dechow et al.

we see that book value loads with a significantly negative coefficient and that the inclusion of book value leads to a decline in the coefficient on abnormal earnings. . . Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Fig.133 observations from 1976 to 1995. If the first-order autoregressive process is appropriate. However. then the additional book value term should not load in the regression.M.18 P. However. unreported tests reveal that this unconstrained specification is not significantly helpful in forecasting future abnormal earnings and so it is not pursued further. results of regressions of abnormal earnings on lagged abnormal earnings and the book value component of lagged abnormal earnings. 2. The sample consists of 50. Feltham and Ohlson (1995) suggest that the negative loading on book value can be interpreted as ‘aggressive’ accounting. Comparison of the actual time-series properties of abnormal earnings with the properties predicted by a first-order autoregressive process with alternative values for the autoregressive coefficient. The graph is formed by taking observations in the extreme deciles of abnormal earnings performance in year 0 and plotting the mean level of abnormal earnings performance for each decile over the following four years.

133 observations from 1976 to 1995. Table 2 reports results from allowing each of the hypothesized determinants of persistence to enter as interactive variables in the abnormal earnings autoregression.21 (!35.97) ? 0.10) Notes: Sample consists of 50.M. q3 is defined as the absolute value of accounting accruals divided by total assets at the beginning of R year t. . q2 is defined as the absolute value of special accounting items divided by book value of equity at the R beginning of year t.77)  !  # 0. q2 and q3.68)  ! !1. All of the interactive effects enter with their hypothesized signs and are statistically significant.80) (8.22)   ! !0. div is defined as dividends paid during year t divided by earnings before extraordinary items and R discontinued operations for year t. Abnormal earnings are scaled by market value of equity at the end of year t. These results confirm that the persistence of Table 2 Determinants of the persistence of abnormal earnings x " # x # (x q1 )# (x q2 )# (x q3 )# (x div ) R   R\  R\ R\  R\ R\  R\ R\  R\ R\ # (x ind )#  R\ R\ R  Predicted sign ? !0. R r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%).59)  ! !0. .P. Recall that  this coefficient measures the persistence of abnormal earnings and is hypothesized to have five determinants. Dechow et al.37 (!28. ind is defined as the first order autoregressive coefficient from an abnormal earnings autoregression R for all firms in the same two digit SIC code as the observation.02 (!30.11 0.34 to 0. measured by the empirical constructs q1.b R R R\ where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t. Persistence is hypothesized to be lower when earnings contain more transitory accounting items. Inclusion of the five interactive effects increases the explanatory power of the regression from 0.61 (!7. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics.61 (13. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 19 Table 2 analyses variation in the autoregressive coefficient. and b denotes book value of equity at the end of R year t.17 (!3. q1 is defined as the absolute value of abnormal earnings for year t divided by book value of equity at R the beginning of year t. The autoregression is conducted using all available firms on the COMPUSTAT annual tapes in the same two digit SIC code from 1950 through year t.40. Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as x?"x !r. Persistence is also hypothesized to be decreasing in the dividend yield (div) and increasing in the historical level of industry-wide abnormal earnings persistence (ind).40 R !0.

is 0.b R R R and abnormal earnings for period t is defined as x "x !r.08 Notes: Sample consists of 50. However.94) R 0. the other information embedded in analysts’ forecasts of next R period’s abnormal earnings Pooled analysis with one lag v " # v# R>   R  R>  0.94. x denotes earnings before extraordinary items for year t. Thus. the other  information mean reverts at about twice the rate of abnormal earnings. Dechow et al. .b R R R\ f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month R following the announcement of earnings for year t. Figures in parentheses are t-statistics. The other information variable is defined as v "f ! x R R R where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as f "f !r.  is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through year t in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression. Table 3 examines the autoregressive properties of the other information variable.133 annual observations from 1976 to 1995. Finally.20 P. The estimate of the first-order autoregressive coefficient on the other information. .01 (38. is also significantly different from the polar extremes of 0 and 1 that are  implicitly assumed in many of the valuation models used in past research. . v. the conditional estimates of that we use to implement Ohlson’s valuation model should offer additional predictive ability with respect to future abnormal earnings. Consequently.M. R r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%). All variables are scaled by the market value of equity at the end of year t. R abnormal earnings varies in a systematic and predictable manner. b denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.79)  0.32 (57. we expect that incorporating more precise estimates of this coefficient should improve our ability to forecast future abnormal earnings and hence predict contemporaneous stock prices. Thus. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Table 3 Autoregressive properties of v .32 with a t-statistic of 57.

029 0. Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as x "x !r.P.006 !0.052 0. b denotes book value of equity at the end of year t. computed as E [x ]"f R R> R !0.  is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression.b R R R where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t.087 0. is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year.032 0.033 0.133 observation from 1976 to 1995.006 Mean absolute forecast error 0. The forecast error for year t is computed by subtracting the forecast of abnormal earning for year t#1 from the realized abnormal earnings for year t#1.032 0.M.b R R R and the period t consensus analysts’ forecast of abnormal earnings for period t#1 is defined as f "f !r. R f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month R following the announcement of earnings for year t. .2. while the mean absolute forecast error and the mean square forecast error measure forecast accuracy. Dechow et al.081 0. The mean forecast error measures forecast bias.030 0.015 Notes: Sample consists of 50. Forecast errors are scaled by the market value of equity at the end of year t. computed as E [x ]" x R R> R Mean forecast error "0 "1 "  " !0.028 Panel B: Prediction for models incorporating ‘other information’.076 Mean square forecast error 0.077 0. Prediction of next period abnormal earnings Statistics on the bias and accuracy of the predictions of next period abnormal earnings generated by each of the valuation models are reported in Table 4. All forecast errors are deflated by market value and the extreme 1% of the forecast errors are Table 4 Relative forecasting ability of alternative modes for predicting next year’s abnormal earnings Panel A: Predictions for models ignoring ‘other information’. R r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%). / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 21 4.008 !0.

respectively. recall from Fig. "  and " . the model using "1 S is considerably less accurate than the other three models. 4. reflecting over-optimism in analysts’ forecasts.22 P. The measures of forecast accuracy are similar for the models using "0. this model therefore generates relatively poor forecasts of stock price. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 winsorised. 2 that the model using "1 model generates poor forecasts of long-run abnormal earnings. Dechow et al. We measure the analysts’ earnings estimates using the I/B/E/S mean consensus earnings estimates provided in the month immediately following the announcement of the annual earnings data used in the time-series models. The mean forecast error is close to zero for the models using "1. The model using has only slightly smaller forecast errors than the model using . and is slightly negative for the model using "0 (!0. Hence. v. Explanation of contemporaneous stock prices The relative ability of the competing valuation models to explain contemporaneous stock prices is evaluated in Table 5. on average.291) and greatest for the model using "1 (forecast error"0. Panel A of Table 5 reports results for the four models ignoring the other information.3. The measures of forecast accuracy indicate that the predictive abilities of the models ignoring the other information in analysts’ forecasts are all very close. This result highlights the important role of the other information embedded in analysts’ forecasts in predicting future abnormal earnings. and the model using "0 is the least accurate of all. All of these models generate large positive mean forecast errors. firms fell slightly short of achieving a return on equity equal to the assumed cost of capital of 12%. The mean forecast error is also negative using the consensus analyst forecast. "  and " . while panel B reports forecast errors for the models that incorporate v.M. The undervaluation is smallest for the model using "0 (forecast error"0.378). This latter result indicates that. The model using "1 is slightly less accurate than the two versions using estimates of . However. This ensures that all of the forecasting variables are measured at similar points in time. Since expectations of long-run abnormal earnings are included in the computation of stock price. Panel A reports forecast errors for each of the models that ignore the other information variable. indicating that they undervalue equities relative to the stock market. Recall that the forecast of next period abnormal earnings is equal to the consensus analyst estimate of abnormal earnings for all of the models that incorporate v.029). The results in panel B indicate that analysts’ forecasts of abnormal earnings are much more accurate than the forecasts generated by the historical time-series models. we only report one set of forecast errors for these models. indicating that our efforts to conditionally estimate the persistence parameter add relatively little to the forecasting ability of the model. To understand this result. The mediocre showing of the .

.266 0.241 Notes: Sample consists of 50. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Table 5 Relative forecasting ability of alternative modles for explaining contemporaneous stock prices Panel A: Price estimates for models ignoring ‘other information’. v is defined as R v "f ! x R R R where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as f "f !r.b R R R where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t. and is estimated R using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series crosssectional regression.278 0.320 0. "0) and ( "0.232 0. is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year.326 Mean absolute forecast error 0.419 0. " S) 0. S is the first order autoregression coefficient for the other information variable.427 0.291 Panel B: Price estimates for models incorporating ‘other information’.227 0.363 0.461 0. "1) " . "0) and ( "0. and b denotes book value of equity at the end of R year t. v .284 0. "0) "1.259 0.284 0. R r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%).248 0.133 observations from 1976 to 1995.519 0. computed as P "b # x R R 1#r! R Mean forecast error "0 "1 "  " 0. Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as x "x !r. Dechow et al.378 0. Forecast errors are scaled by stock price at the end of year t The forecast error for year t is computed by subtracting the forecast stock price for year t from the observed market stock price at the end of the month following the announcement of earnings for year t.P. " S) " .461 0.285 0.402 0.445 0.465 23 Mean square forecast error 0.M.  is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression. computed as 1#r P "b # x# v R R 1#r! R (1#r! )(1#r! ) R ( ( ( ( "0.291 0.b R R R f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month R following the announcement of earnings for year t.

the undervaluations are not as large as they were for the models ignoring other information. Panel B of Table 5 reports results for the models incorporating the information in analysts’ forecasts.r)/(1#r! )"1. the poor showing of this model in the pricing tests raises the possibility that stock prices do not reflect rational expectations of future abnormal earnings.24 P. Recall from Fig. the model using ( "1. 670). we investigate the ability of the information variables used in the valuation models to explain stock prices without imposing the restrictions implied by the valuation models. These results are consistent with the superior predictive accuracy of analysts’ forecasts with respect to future abnormal earnings. because book value contains additional information about long-run abnormal earnings that should be rationally reflected in stock prices. Thus. Dechow et al. Thus. This result is surprising. However. and  "( # . The fact that book value loads in addition to earnings indicates that book value contains value relevant information beyond that already in earnings. /(1#r! )"0.39.M.62 (historical average from (Table 1) gives: "1!r. "0) provides the most accurate forecasts of stock prices.85.074) and "3.88 (0. We can obtain further insights from the regressions by comparing the estimated coefficients to values implied by Ohlson’s model in conjunction with representative parameter values. We explore this issue in more detail later in the paper.40 (0. the strong showing of the model using ( "1.  The corresponding mean values (standard errors) on the empirical regression coefficients are "0. All of the models incorporating the other information have lower forecast errors than the models using historical data. "0) in the pricing tests again raises the possibility that stock prices do not reflect rational expectations of future abnormal earnings.262). 1 that this model simply capitalizes the forecast of next period’s earnings in perpetuity and ignores information in book value. Thus. Using r"12% (long-run historical average) and "0. The formulae for the predicted valuation coefficients on book value and earnings are taken from Ohlson (1995). In Table 6. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 model using " is somewhat surprising. These two explanatory variables are the information variables used in the valuation models that ignore other information. Panel A of Table 6 reports results of annual cross-sectional regressions of stock price on historical book value and earnings. stock prices appear   . (p. Of the models incorporating other information. The undervaluations are surprising. because the results in Table 3 indicate that the analysts’ forecasts of future abnormal earnings are overoptimistic. The mean forecast errors indicate that these models also undervalue relative to the market. Both book value and earnings load positively and significantly in the regressions. Table 4 illustrates that this model generates the most accurate forecasts of next period’s abnormal earnings among the four models ignoring the other information.

07 0.85 0.72 0. 0.015 Med.05 5.133 observations from 1976 to 1995. The explanatory power of these .26 0.06 !0. 9.408 0.25 0. Err.262 0.61 4. In addition to book value and earnings.68 4. because investors overestimate the persistence of abnormal earnings.256 0.53 0.40 3.18 2.64 !0.035 0. R f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month R following the announcement of earnings for year t.05 0.M. Q1 Med. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Table 6 Unconstrained regressions of stock price on the variables used in the valuation models Panel A: Regressions of price on book value and earnings P" # b# x# R  R  R R Min. x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t.88 0. An alternative interpretation is that stock prices do not reflect rational expectations.24 0. Sample consists of 50.85.97 0.74 Max 7.67   R P 1 anel B: Regressions of price on book value.82 3.56 3.27 0.81 6.92 0.019 1.69 Q3 5.39 0. Dechow et al.03 5.40 Std.07 0. Mean 9.56 6.59 Max 13.89 0.64 0.42 1. Q1 7.51 3. The regressions reported in panel B of Table 6 employ the information variables used in the valuation models incorporating other information. R b denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.63 0.74 0. 0.86    R Notes: Statistics reported are based on the estimates from 20 annual cross-sectional regressions from 1976 to 1995.40 8.074 0.53 Q3 10. Min.57 0.79 0.09 0. All variables are measured on a per-share basis.07 0.65 !0.353 0.68 Coeff.43 0.150 0.00 0. Mean 4. P denotes the stock price measured at the end of the month following the announcement of earnings R for year t. err. to place too low a weight on book value and too high a weight on earnings.P.05 3.09 !0. One interpretation of these results is that they are driven by a misspecification in Ohlson’s valuation model.68 0.34 8. these regressions also include the consensus analyst forecast of next period’s earnings. earnings and the consensus analyst forecast of next year’s earnings P" # b# x# f# R  R  R  R R Std.51 25 Coeff. The value of required to justify the empirical regression coefficients is approximately "0.53 4.

 "[!(1#r). For example. An alternative interpretation is that stock prices do not reflect rational expectations. suggesting that analysts’ forecast of next year’s earnings subsume value relevant information in current earnings. . We investigate this possibility in the next section.62 (historical average from Table 1) and "0. ]/[(1#r! )(1#r! )]"!0. Book value loads positively and significantly. a ( . One interpretation of these results is that they are driven by a misspecification in Ohlson’s valuation model.150) and "5. indicating that the analysts’ forecasts contain incremental information about firm value. Dechow et al. The formulae for the predicted valuation coefficients on book value and earnings are from Ohlson (1998) (p.26 P. we consider whether the values implied by the competing models are able to predict future stock returns. Using r"12% (long-run historical average) and "0. Earnings loads with a small and statistically insignificant coefficient.55.  The corresponding mean values (standard errors) on the empirical regression coefficients are "0. the results in Table 4 . / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 regressions are considerably higher than in panel A.80.035). the analysts’ forecast of next year’s earnings loads with a positive and statistically significant coefficient.24 (0.M.256). 14). We can again obtain further insights from the regressions by comparing the estimated coefficients to values implied by Ohlson’s model in conjunction with representative parameter values.79 (0. These additional tests are motivated by the apparent inconsistencies between the abnormal earnings prediction results in Table 4 and the valuation results in Tables 5 and 6.    stock prices place too low a weight on book value and too high a weight on the analysts’ forecast of next year’s earnings. and  "(1#r)/[(1#r! )(1#r! )]"2. 4. ) combination of approximately (0. This result indicates that book value contains some value relevant information beyond that in analysts’ forecasts of next year’s earnings. Thus. In particular. In this section.95. Finally.4. "0.00) would be required to approximate the empirical regression coefficients.05 (0.32 (historical average from Table 3) gives: "[(1#r)(1! )(1! )]/[(1#r! )(1#r! )]"0.0. our pricing tests have focused on the ability of the competing valuation models to predict contemporaneous stock prices. though the coefficient is much smaller than in the regressions excluding the analyst forecast variable.72. Prediction of future stock returns Thus far. because investors tend to overestimate the persistence of short-term earnings forecasts.

197 0.169 0. the results in Table 5 indicate that the reverse holds true with respect to the ability of the models to explain observed stock prices.160 0.174 0.M. and are therefore expected to experience higher future stock returns.162 0. Note that the ratio formed for the model using "0 is just the book-to-market ratio.215 0. In the tradition of fundamental analysis. while the ratio formed for the model using "1 is proportional to the earnings-to-price ratio.235 0.165 0. Higher deciles consist of stocks that are underpriced relative to intrinsic value.143 0.136 0.143 0.181 0.212 0. Panel A reports the one-year-ahead returns for ratios formed on the valuation models ignoring other information.203 0.166 0.206 0.234 0.076 (2.161 0. we therefore provide tests of whether observed stock prices tend to revert toward the ‘fundamental’ or ‘intrinsic’ values implied by particular models. Decile portfolios are then formed using the ranked ratios.44) .P. Moreover.235 0. and are therefore expected to experience lower future stock returns.196 0.187 0. The predictive ability of these ratios with respect to future stock returns is already well documented. Table 7 Predictive ability of ratios of implied model values to observed market values with respect to stock returns over the following year Panel A: Implied values ignoring ‘other information’.159 0.94) "1 0.24) "  0.170 0. However.140 0.202 0.159 0.072 (1.194 0. These tests entertain the possibility of temporary stock mispricing that can be systematically predicted by particular valuation models.159 0. The results are presented in Table 7.153 0.158 0.180 0.39) " 0. computed as P "b # x R R 1#r! R Portfolio 1 (Lowest) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (Highest) Hedge (t-statistic) "0 0.152 0.171 0.094 (2.182 0.170 0. Dechow et al.181 0.173 0. Lower deciles consist of stocks that are overpriced relative to intrinsic value. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 27 indicate that the model using " provides more accurate forecasts of future abnormal earnings than the models using "  and "0.222 0. The tests are constructed by taking the ratio of the intrinsic model values to observed equity values.099 (2. the evidence in Table 6 is consistent with the expectations embedded in stock prices underestimating the mean reversion in abnormal earnings.175 0.191 0.

154 0.133 observations from 1976 to 1995.175 0.44) ( " .062 (1.b R R R f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first month R following the announcement of earnings for year t.071 (1. Dechow et al.M. Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as x "x !r.181 0.171 0.149 0. " S) 0.224 0.161 0.210 0.175 0.28 P.206 0.162 0.157 0.210 0. S is the first order autoregression coefficient for the other information variable.175 0.147 0. "1) 0.211 0. computed as 1#r x# v P "b # R (1#r! )(1#r! ) R R R 1#r! ( "1.179 0. observations are ranked and assigned in equal numbers to deciles based on the ratio of implied model value to observed market value of equity.154 0. v . is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year. "0) and ( "0.185 0.154 0.177 0.213 0.178 0. R r denotes the discount rate (assumed to be 12%). R R R where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t. and b denotes book value of equity at the end of R year t. . "0) Portfolio 1 (Lowest) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (Highest) Hedge (t-statistic) Notes: Each year.77) 0.204 0. and is estimated R using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series crosssectional regression. beginning three months after the end of the fiscal year from which the historical forecast data are obtained.176 0.154 0. R R R where the period t consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as f "f !r.070 (1.165 0.220 0.173 0. "0) and ( "0.162 0.178 0.145 0. ¹-statistics are based on the time-series standard errors of the 20 annual portfolio returns. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Table 7 (continued) Panel B: Implied values incorporating ‘other information’.34) ( " .159 0.201 0.203 0.224 0. v is defined as R v "f ! x .b .  is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression.173 0. Sample consists of 50.208 0. Equal-weighted buy-hold stock returns are then computed for each decile portfolio over the subsequent 12 months. The table reports the mean of the 20 years of annual portfolio returns.174 0.054 (1.71) 0.158 0. " S) ( "0.

but the worst at predicting future stock returns. while the model using "1 is third with a hedge portfolio return of 7. Table 8 therefore reports results of more direct tests of the hypothesis that investors price predictable errors in analysts’ forecasts. "0). which is the difference between the return for portfolio 10 and the return for portfolio 1.M.6% (t"2. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 29 The hedge portfolio return. The model using "0 displays the lowest predictive ability. These results contrast sharply with the contemporaneous stock price results in Table 5.44). Statistical inference is conducted using the standard error of the annual mean hedge portfolio returns over the 20 years in the sample period. with a hedge portfolio return of 7. the results in Table 7 are indirect and their statistical significance is weak. Moreover. summarizes the predictive ability of each model with respect to future returns. However.4% (t"2.2% (t"1.94). ranging from 7. The regressions in panel A of Table 8 examine the extent to which each of the models ignoring other information in analysts’ forecasts detects errors in analysts’ forecasts of one-period-ahead earnings.4% (t"1. The superior predictive ability with respect to future stock returns of the model using " potentially explains why this model performs poorly in the pricing tests (Table 5). It appears that the expectations reflected in stock prices fail to fully anticipate the rate of mean reversion in abnormal earnings that is captured by this model.1% (t"1. this explanation should be interpreted with caution due to the low statistical significance of the results. valuation models ignoring this information have the greatest predictive ability with respect to future stock returns. the valuation model using ( "1.9% (t"2.39). The return interval begins 3 months after the fiscal year end of the year from which the historical data is obtained. Panel B reports the one-year-ahead returns for ratios computed using valuation models incorporating the other information in analysts’ earnings forecasts. Dechow et al. These relations are exactly what would be expected if analysts’ earnings estimates are naively incorporated in stock prices even when they do not fully reflect all information in current abnormal earnings about future abnormal earnings.24). despite its superior predictive ability with respect to future abnormal earnings (Table 4). "0) to 5. The regressions in panel B then examine whether the errors identified in the analysts’ forecasts appear to be accompanied by corresponding errors in stock prices. with a hedge portfolio return of 9. While valuation models incorporating information in analysts’ forecasts have the greatest ability to explain contemporaneous stock prices. with a hedge portfolio return of 9. Moreover.P. However. The model using "  is second. The hedge portfolio returns are uniformly lower. "0) is the best at explaining contemporaneous stock prices. The model using " displays the greatest predictive ability.77) for the model using ( "0.44) for the model using ( "1. Kothari and Warner (1997) and Barber and Lyon (1997) provide evidence that statistical tests using long horizon stock returns are poorly specified. The results in panel .

40 !0.01 0.03 !0.05 0.02 0.48 0. Table 8 Panel A Analysis of the relation between forecast errors in abnormal earnings predictions from analysts’ consensus earnings estimates and forecasts of abnormal earnings that ignore the other information in analysts’ consensus earnings estimates.06 0.01 !0. The earnings forecasts that ignore the other information are generated by the model.03 !0. All variables are measured on a per-share basis.13 0.04 0.04 0.40 0.12 0.63 0.03 !0.01 !0.004 0.08 !0.01 !0.03 0. Q1 Med.043 0.01 0.05 !0.133 observations from 1976 to 1995.02 0.01 0. Regression model estimated is (x !f )" # ( x !f )#e R> R   R R R> Coeff. Thus the hypothesis that investors naively price predictable errors in analysts’ forecasts provides a promising explanation for the results obtained in this paper. error Min.04 !0.017 !0.03 0.03 0.29 0. The results in panel B indicate that these systematic forecast errors are reflected in stock prices.03 0.01 !0.005 0.44 0.35 !0. "0   R "1   R "    R "   R !0.14 0.74 0. though the statistical significance of these results is weak.11 0.49 0.16 0.M.30 P. Statistics reported are based on the estimates from 20 annual cross-sectional G R> G R G R> regressions from 1976 to 1995.04 !0.64 0.71 0.12 !0.01 !0.02 0.00 0.58 0.42 0. Q3 Max . Dechow et al. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 A indicate that the models using "1.024 !0.00 0.16 0.24 !0.25 0.05 0.12 0.00 0.018 !0. "  and " all identify systematic errors in analysts’ earnings forecasts.043 0.16 0. Sample consists of 50.42 0.08 0.76 0.083 0.07 !0.00 !0.00 0.10 !0.40 0.02 0.004 0.35 0.26 Mean Std.022 !0.036 0.51 0.16 0. Frankel and Lee (1998) also report that analysts’ earnings forecasts contain predictable errors that are not rationally anticipated in stock prices.08 0.02 0.04 0.003 0.45 0.13 0. x " x # .

and b denotes book value of equity at the end of year t.53 0. Regression model estimated is Ret Coeff.16 0.b R R R where x denotes earnings before extraordinary items and discontinued operations for year t.44 0. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 Table 8 (continued) 31 Panel B Analysis of the relation between stock returns in the year following the release of analysts’ consensus forecasts and forecasts of abnormal earnings that ignore the other information in analysts’ consensus earnings forecasts.27 0.11 !0. r denotes R the discount rate (assumed to be 12%). Statistics reported are based on the estimates from 20 annual cross-sectional regressions from 1976 to 1995.037 0.88 0.01 0.01 0. error 0.53 0. Q3 Max Std.46 0. is the predicted value of from the regression model specified in Table 2 and estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year.036 0.52 0. Stock returns are equal-weighted buy—hold returns over the 12 months G R> G R G R> beginning three months after the end of the fiscal year from which the historical forecast data are obtained.096 0.04 Notes: Abnormal earnings for year t is defined as x "x !r.11 !0.11 !0.036 0. Q1 Med.28 0. All variables are measured on a per-share basis. Sample consists of 50.15 0. R The consensus analyst forecast of abnormal earnings for the next period is defined as f "f !r. .11 !0.07 0.133 observations from 1976 to 1995.00 0.27 0.02 0.00 0.00 !0.01 0.001 0.00 0.00 0.15 0.01 0.01 0. buy—hold.05 0.01 0.P.05 !0.01 0.  is the first order autoregression coefficient for abnormal earnings and is estimated using all historically available data from 1950 through the forecast year in a pooled time-series cross-sectional regression.M.00 0. with-dividend stock return over the 12 months beginning R> three months after the end of the fiscal year t.76 0. Ret is the equal-weighted.00 0.b R R R where f denotes the I/B/E/S consensus forecast of earnings for year t#1 measured in the first R month following the announcement of earnings for year t.15 0.08 0.18 0.15 0.00 !0.002 0.56 0.18 !0.65 0.28 0.27 0.01 0.00 !0.01 0.14 !0.36 0.03 0.070 0. The earnings forecasts that ignore the other information are generated by the model x " x # .01 0. "0   R "1   R "    R "   R Mean " # ( x !f )#e R>   R R R> Min.80 0.077 0.73 0.00 0.27 0.10 0.066 0.04 0.05 0.34 0.035 0.002 !0.36 0.05 !0.01 0.06 !0.05 !0.002 0.18 0.14 0.03 0.00 0.15 0. Dechow et al.18 0.

Despite the ambiguous empirical support for the model. For example. Second. the model provides a basic framework upon which subsequent research can build. Third. Dechow et al. We begin by pointing out that existing empirical applications of the residual income valuation model are generally similar to past applications of traditional earnings capitalization models. a simple valuation model that capitalizes analysts’ earnings forecasts in perpetuity is better at explaining contemporaneous stock prices. rather than on forecasting its components.M. Subsequent tests suggest that the superior explanatory power of the simple capitalization model may arise because investors overweight information in analysts’ earnings forecasts and under-weight information in current earnings and book value. Kothari and Zimmerman (1995) assume a 100% payout ratio. First. as shown in this paper. Conclusions This paper provides an empirical assessment of the residual income valuation model proposed in Ohlson (1995). . we believe that the model provides a useful framework for empirical research for several reasons.  We emphasize the word ‘directly’ in this sentence. Our empirical tests indicate that while the information dynamics are reasonably empirically descriptive. the model highlights the implicit assumptions that previous models make about the relation between current accounting variables and future abnormal earnings. For example. earnings and short-term forecasts of earnings. Feltham and Ohlson (1995) generalize the model to incorporate growth and accounting conservatism. In doing so. the model provides a unifying framework for a large number of previous ‘ad hoc’ valuation models using book value. Thus. the researcher must focus directly on forecasting future abnormal earnings. Forecasts of the earnings and book value components of abnormal earnings contain a forecast of future dividend payments through the clean surplus relation. Previous valuation models based on the dividenddiscounting model often make unrealistic assumptions about dividend policy. Ohlson’s model illustrates that valuation models focusing directly on forecasting future abnormal earnings avoid having to forecast the timing of future dividend payments. the focus of the model on the relation between current information variables and future abnormal earnings is heuristically appealing. / Journal of Accounting and Economics 26 (1999) 1–34 5.32 P. We argue that the key original empirical implications of Ohlson’s model arise from the information dynamics that describe the formation of abnormal earnings expectations. This simplification embodies the notion that dividend policy is irrelevant to the extent that reinvested earnings generate the cost of capital.

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