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An examination of SFAS 146 restructuring charges

Yong Gyu Lee, 2008
Faculty Advisor: Bjorn Jorgensen
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This dissertation examines whether earnings management using restructuring charges has changed subsequent to the implementation of SFAS 146. My empirical results indicate a significant decrease in the magnitude of "abnormal" restructurings and a lower association between abnormal restructurings and "big bath" reporting behavior after the standard. These findings suggest that the reliability of restructurings has improved under SFAS 146. Furthermore, I investigate how the effect of abnormal restructurings on future earnings growth has changed after the FASB action. My results reveal that the association between abnormal restructurings and growth in next year's core earnings is more positive in the post-SFAS 146 regime. This suggests that more reliable abnormal restructurings reported under SFAS 146 are accompanied by a greater improvement in future operating performance than prior to the standard. Finally, my stock returns tests show that abnormal restructurings are negatively and strongly associated with subsequent returns in the pre-SFAS 146 period, while such negative association is weaker in the post-SFAS 146 period. Thus, investors' perceptions of the implications of abnormal restructurings for future earnings growth may have improved following the standard.

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