Happy CEOs influence market: report

THE natural demeanour of a chief executive officer can have an impact on the way the market reacts to earnings announcements from a company, according to newly-released research.

Jack McGinn
Happy CEOs influence market: report

The study conducted by the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business found a positive link between CEOs who were inclined to express themselves with optimism and market response to company performance.

The study examined the transcripts of earnings reports delivered in conference calls, recording the use of positive and negative words and contrasting the information with corporate performance and market activity.

In order to avoid instances where positive language was used strategically, the sample group was limited to earnings announcements for things such as equity offerings and mergers and acquisitions.

Paper co-author Jenny Zhang said the findings revealed that managers who kept an optimistic state of mind had a positive influence on the market.

“Ours is the first study to look at the effect of how managers naturally convey themselves,” she said.

“To do this we tracked the way CEOs and CFOs communicate earnings across their leadership roles at multiple firms to decipher their overall communication style.”

The report also found CEOs to be more positive than CFOs. Executives who began their career in a recession were less optimistic and men tended to convey themselves more positively.

Zheng said the research had important implications for shareholders.

“Investors should be aware that there are human factors at play when they’re listening to reports on firm performance,” she said.

“We tend to think managers are being strategic in their delivery, but sometimes they just can’t help but be human — for better or worse.”

The study assessed the performance of 121 CEOs and CFOs and involved 225 firms. It will be published in the upcoming Review of Accounting Studies journal.


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