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The effect of earnings surprises on information asymmetry

By Stephen Brown, Stephen A. Hillegeist and Kin Lo


We examine the effect of earnings surprises on changes in information asymmetry. We hypothesize and find that asymmetry is lower (higher) in the quarter following positive (negative) earnings surprises compared to firms that meet the consensus analyst earnings forecast. The relations between earnings surprises and information asymmetry are stronger when the surprises are more likely to capture investors' attention. Examining the source of these changes, we show that decreased information search activities is the most important factor for asymmetry declining after positive surprises; for negative surprises, decreased uninformed trading plays a dominant role increasing asymmetry.Information asymmetry Earnings surprises Investor recognition hypothesis

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