“Aggregate Earnings and Stock Market Returns: The Good, the Bad, and the State-Dependent” by Professor Jim FREDERICKSON
Professor Jim FREDERICKSON
Professor of Accounting
Melbourne Business School
The University of Melbourne
Prior research documents a negative aggregate earnings-returns relation. In contrast, we posit that the sign of the relation varies, depending upon the macroeconomic and financial market conditions that exist in the earnings announcement quarter. We argue that the existing macroeconomic and financial market conditions influence market participants’ frame of reference, which in turn affects whether they interpret aggregate earnings surprises to be informative about the expected inflation component of the discount rate, the market risk premium component of the discount rate, or aggregate future cash flows. Consistent with this, we find that the sign of the aggregate earnings-returns relation changes numerous times across our sample period. We also find that market participants interpret aggregate earnings to be informative about changes in expected inflation (market risk premium) when the sign of the aggregate earnings-returns relation is negative (positive). Finally, we identify macroeconomic and financial market conditions under which the aggregate earnings-returns relation is more (less) likely to be negative (positive).