Financial statement analysis, growth expectations, and equity valuation
This study develops forecasts of earnings growth using a structured financial statement analysis and compares those forecasts with analysts' growth forecasts and the implied growth expectation in market prices. It takes the perspective that investors buy future earnings, and thus long-term earnings growth expectation is a key determinant of valuation. Companies with better growth prospects can command higher price-to-earnings ratios. Investors face significant uncertainty regarding long-term growth, and financial statement information proves useful in reducing such uncertainty. The proposed financial statement analysis model combines financial statement-based signals about future earnings into a composite indicator of the firm's growth prospects that explains traded P/E ratios. By comparing the financial statement analysis-based earnings growth forecasts with market growth expectations, the study shows that, first, financial analysts have not entirely incorporated the relevant financial statement information into their long-term growth forecasts, and secondly, stock prices appear not to fully reflect such information. This leads to the predictability of stock returns, which could have been exploited by sophisticated financial statement users.