Accruals, Cash Flows, and Aggregate Stock Returns

David Hirshleifer, Kewei Hou, and Siew Hong Teoh

Journal of Financial Economics, March 2009


This paper examines whether the firm-level accrual and cash flow effects extend to the aggregate stock market. In sharp contrast to previous firm-level findings, aggregate accruals is a strong positive time series predictor of aggregate stock returns, and cash flows is a negative predictor. In addition, innovations in accruals are negatively contemporaneously correlated with aggregate returns, and innovations in cash flows are positively correlated with returns. These findings suggest that innovations in accruals and cash flows contain information about changes in discount rates, or that firms manage earnings in response to marketwide undervaluation.

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