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Cash flow management in the Chinese stock market: An empirical assessment with comparison to the U.S. Market

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This paper examines cash flow management in the Chinese market and compares it to that in the U.S. market. It adopts Burgstahler and Dichev (1997) and Degeorge et al.’s (1999) method and the best-fitted distribution model to analyze the financial data of Chinese listed firms during 1998–2005 and the forecasted cash flow per share (CPS) data for Chinese firms in the I/B/E/S database during 1993–2005. Results reveal that cash flows reports are not as reliable as people think, and managers manipulate cash flows just as they manipulate earnings. Further analyses show that zero point, last year’s cash flow and analyst cash flow forecast are the three thresholds that influence managers’ decision when they report cash flow performance. Over 16% of the firms with small positive cash flows manipulate their cash flow. Moreover, 16.64% of the firms with small changes in cash flow and 9.81% of the firms with small surprises manipulate cash flows to reach the targets. A comparative analysis shows that cash flow management behaviors around zero and zero changes are more prevalent in the Chinese market than in the U.S. market. Cash flow management around analyst cash flow forecasts, however, is no more prevalent than that in the U.S. market.


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