Erik Beardsley’s paper, “Street vs. GAAP: Which Effective Tax Rate is More Informative?,” coauthored with Michael Mayberry (University of Florida) and Sean McGuire (Texas A&M), has been accepted for publication in Contemporary Accounting Research. Here is the abstract:
This study investigates how sophisticated market participants use tax-based information by examining whether analysts’ street effective tax rates (ETRs) are informative. When assessing firm performance, analysts exclude items they believe do not reflect current performance, resulting in “street” metrics such as street ETR. However, evidence on the properties of the components of street earnings is limited. Examining the informativeness of street ETRs is important because taxes are a significant component of earnings, and the extent to which analysts understand and incorporate taxes into their analyses is not clear. Using a hand-collected sample of analyst reports, we find that while approximately 35 percent of street ETRs have at least one tax-specific exclusion, over 90 percent reflect the tax effects of pre-tax exclusions. Further, both tax-specific exclusions and the tax effects of pre-tax exclusions significantly contribute to differences between GAAP and street ETRs. Consistent with analysts understanding the implications of tax and non-tax exclusions, our results suggest that street tax metrics exhibit greater predictive ability about future tax outcomes and provide more information to investors than GAAP tax metrics. We also find that ETR exclusions are of higher quality when the magnitude of the potentially excluded item is greater and when managers disclose pro forma earnings. Collectively, our findings suggest that analysts understand taxes, but selectively exert effort to incorporate tax-based information into their assessment of firm performance. The study should be informative to regulators and users of financial information because it provides evidence regarding the usefulness of street earnings metrics.