The impact of statutory sanctions on the level and information content of voluntary corporate disclosure

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Journal Article
Abacus, 1999, 35 (2), pp. 138 - 162
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This article examines the effect of statutory civil and criminal sanctions on voluntary corporate disclosures by firms listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Apart from direct investigation of the quantity of voluntary disclosure, we also investigate several possible consequences of altered corporate disclosure policies, namely properties of analysts’ forecasts, the degree to which share prices anticipate the information content of periodic earnings reports, and the relationship between volatility and corporate disclosures. Results suggest that, post-sanctions, any increase in voluntary disclosure is confined to smaller firms and those which performed relatively poorly. Moreover, analysts’ earnings forecasts did not become more accurate or less diverse following the introduction of statutory sanctions, and there was no statistically significant increase in the weight placed on each disclosure’s ability to explain return volatility. There is some evidence that share prices have anticipated earlier the value relevant components of annual periodic accounting data, although this result is again confined to smaller firms. Although the tests used are not independent and have a limited time period post-sanctions, the results cast doubt on the extent to which the imposition of substantive civil or criminal sanctions affects corporate disclosure policy. © 1999 Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
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