Meeting or Missing Earnings Benchmarks: The Role of CEO Integrity

Meeting or Missing Earnings Benchmarks: The Role of CEO Integrity

Yuping Jia Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

April/May 2013
Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Vol. 40, Issue 3-4, pp. 373-398, 2013

This paper examines the role of CEO integrity in determining whether a company’s earnings benchmarks will be met, beaten or missed. Prior literature provides evidence that managers have incentives for meeting or beating earnings benchmarks and are rewarded by the market for doing so (Lopez and Rees, 2002; and Skinner and Sloan, 2002). Managers also have incentives to miss their earnings targets for the benefit of a lower strike price on subsequent option grants (McAnally et al., 2008). A CEO’s involvement in backdating is taken here as a measure of his or her integrity. This paper shows that CEO integrity significantly influences whether benchmarks are met or beaten. In other words, backdating CEOs are more likely to meet or narrowly beat all three earnings benchmarks examined in the paper: positive earnings, last year’s earnings and analysts’ forecasts. At the same time, they are also less likely to narrowly miss a zero‐earnings benchmark. The results presented in this paper further validate the use of benchmark meeting/beating as a measure of earnings manipulation.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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