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The Covid-19 outbreak, corporate financial distress and earnings management

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Vu TrinhORCiD


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This study explores the association between the Covid-19 outbreak, corporate financial distress and earnings management practices in China. We investigate whether firms took advantage of the downturn in economic conditions during the pandemic to adjust their earnings using different earnings management techniques. Utilising a sample of 1832 listed firms and underlying theoretical frameworks (i.e., positive accounting and signalling theory), we find that firms were more inclined to manage earnings during the pandemic period. They favoured using the accrual-based rather than the real activity-based earnings management technique. We also find that firms engaged more in income-increasing practices in the shadow of the outbreak. In addition, our results further demonstrate that financially distressed firms were involved in earnings management, particularly accrual-based earnings management. However, compared to privately-owned firms, state-owned enterprises seem to be involved less in earnings management during the Covid-19 pandemic. Findings from this study raise some concerns for policymakers about the credibility of financial reporting information during Covid-19.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Aljughaiman AA, Nguyen HT, Trinh VQ, Du A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Review of Financial Analysis

Year: 2023

Volume: 88

Print publication date: 01/07/2023

Online publication date: 27/04/2023

Acceptance date: 24/04/2023

ISSN (print): 1057-5219

ISSN (electronic): 1873-8079

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.irfa.2023.102675


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