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Abstract

I examine the importance of the properties of accounting information to equity investors by estimating the implicit prices of accruals quality and operating volatility revealed from observed stock prices. I measure accruals quality parameters based on the model in Nikolaev [2016], which separates the volatility of accounting error from the volatility of the performance component of accruals. I use the hedonic regression approach, which relies on rational expectations (Bajari et al. [2012]) to identify the effect of accruals quality on firm value. This approach isolates time-varying unobservable factors correlated with accruals quality. My findings indicate that investors have preferences for higher accruals quality. At the margin, a 1% increase in the volatility of accounting error results in a 0.50% decrease in the firm value. At the same time, my findings indicate that investors have preferences for lower operating risk, which statistically and economically dominates preferences for accruals quality. At the margin, a 1% increase in the operating volatility results in a 1.43% decrease in the firm value. Overall, my findings suggest that the effect of accruals quality on firm value is largely driven by the operating risk. This result is robust to the choice of the model of time-varying unobservable firm characteristics and to different sets of control variables.

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