Effects of Recognition versus Disclosure on the Structure and Financial Reporting of Share Based Payments
I examine whether financial statement preparers (managers and auditors) treat recognized versus disclosed fair value of option compensation differently. Recognition refers to items that appear on the face of financial statements and that are included in subtotal figures that appear in the summary accounts; disclosure refers to items that appear in words and amounts in only the financial statement footnotes. I find that fair value recognition of option compensation is likely to have a significant impact on net income. Firms in my sample granted options amounting to a median fair value of 7% of profits in 1996 and 11% of profits in 2004. I compare the terms of option grants and the properties of fair value estimation under a disclosure reporting regime to terms and properties under a recognition regime. Under a fair value recognition regime, I find firms reduce/eliminate option grants across all levels of employees, reduce the statutory length of options, and substitute restricted stock and bonuses for option compensation. The fair value reduction in option grants is on average 9% (0.4%) of absolute net income. In contrast, under a fair value disclosure regime, option compensation was not reduced. I also find that firms increase the bias in three inputs to fair value option estimation: volatility, dividend, and interest. This increase amounts to 4%, 2%, and 0.3% of fair value cost. Mandatory recognition firms also display increased dividend and interest input accuracy. Combined, these results suggest that financial statements reflect differences in behavior between recognition and disclosure reporting regimes, such that both real actions and fair value estimation are used to reduce recognized values.
Business Administration, Accounting
employee stock options
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