Short Arbitrage, Return Asymmetry and the Accrual Anomaly

David Hirshleifer, Siew Hong Teoh, and Jeff Jiewei Yu

Review of Financial Studies, July 2011

Abstract:

We find a positive association between short-selling and accruals during 1988-2009, and that asymmetry between the long and short sides of the accrual anomaly is stronger when constraints on short-arbitrage are more severe (low availability of loanable shares as proxied by institutional holdings). Short arbitrage occurs primarily among firms in the top accrual decile. Asymmetry is only present on NASDAQ. Thus, there is short arbitrage of the accrual anomaly, but short sale constraints limit its effectiveness.

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