Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) Erasmus University, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)
The practice of reporting earnings measures that deviate from generally accepted accounting principles (non-GAAP measures) has received negative attention in the media. Regulators argue in favour of reporting GAAP earnings measures and utter their concerns that investors may be misled by the use of non-GAAP measures. In a period of increased regulatory concern for these reporting practices, we explore whether there has been a shift away from the use of non-GAAP metrics. We analyse a sample of earnings press releases in the period 1999-2004 from companies listed at Euronext Amsterdam. Our findings indicate that reporting non-GAAP measures is a common practice and that the frequency of reporting non-GAAP earnings measures has increased despite the concerns voiced by regulators. On the other hand, investors seem to have become more hesitant towards the use of alternative earnings measures for their decision-making. Our findings suggest that investors find non-GAAP measures informative before 2003, but they turn away from these measures in the following years and price GAAP earnings metrics instead. Together, these findings suggest that the negative media attention for non-GAAP measures has influenced the perception of investors, but not of managers.