When and why do IPO firms manage earnings?

Ewa Sletten, Yonca Ertimur, Jayanthi Sunder, Joseph Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


There is significant disagreement about whether, when, and why IPO firms manage earnings. We precisely identify the timing and motives behind earnings management by IPO firms. The period around an IPO is characterized by two events: the IPO itself and the lockup expiration. Both the raising of capital at the IPO and the exit by pre-IPO shareholders at lockup expiration create incentives for firms to manage earnings. To disentangle the effect of these events, we examine quarterly, rather than annual, abnormal accruals. We find no evidence of income-increasing earnings management before the IPO. However, IPO firms exhibit positive abnormal accruals in the quarter before and the quarter of the lockup expiration. Positive abnormal accruals are concentrated in less scrutinized firms and firms with high selling by pre-IPO shareholders. Moreover, we find that these accruals subsequently reverse and that such reversals contribute to long-run IPO underperformance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-906
Number of pages35
JournalReview of Accounting Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Earnings management
  • IPO lockup

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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