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Title: Essays on equity valuation and accounting conservatism for insurance companies
Author: Haboub, Ahmad
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 2414
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis contributes to the literature in the finance and accounting field throughout its three empirical chapters. The first empirical chapter contributes to the literature on accounting conservatism in several ways; first, it investigates the accounting conservatism of US insurance companies using four measures, namely, non-operating accruals, skewness of earnings and cash flows, book to market ratio and asymmetric timeliness measures. Second, this paper compares these four measures in order to determine the association and differences between them. Finally, the level of accounting conservatism of the insurance companies is compared to that of a sample of commercial banks to check whether they have similar levels of accounting conservatism. The results of the first chapter suggest that the changes in accounting performance, as measured by return over assets, can be partly explained by accounting conservatism, since it is measured by the accumulation of non-operating accruals, skewness of operating cash flow and accruals, book to market ratio, adjusted book to market ratio and Basu's asymmetric measure. All of these four measures give robust evidence that insurance companies' accounts tended to be conservative for the whole sample period, and that the level of conservatism has risen over the years. More interestingly, a t test for the differences in means suggests that accruals conservatism show on average a higher level of accounting conservatism than book value conservatism does. Finally, our results, based on a constant sample consist of 92 banks and 46 insurance companies whose data are available for all the sample years; they suggest that both insurance companies and banks have similar levels of accounting conservatism due to their similar reporting characteristics. The second empirical chapter contributes to the existing literature on equity valuation in two ways. First, it confirms the importance of imposing linear information dynamics when predicting the equity values of insurance companies, because the restricted models result in fewer error metrics. Second, it highlights the role of the accruals components in the equity valuation of US insurance companies by demonstrating that the incorporation of accrual components in the residuals income valuation model suggested by Ohlson (1995) has smaller error metrics than those of aggregate net income. Our results are based on a sample of US insurance companies, which consists of 718 firm-year observations over the period from 2001 to 2012. For instance, our results suggest that total accruals, changes in insurance reserve, changes in account receivables, and deferred acquisition costs have an incremental ability to predict equity market value over abnormal earnings and book values. Furthermore, the predictive ability of changes in insurance reserves is higher than the predictive ability of changes in account receivables and the change in deferred acquisition costs without imposing the LIM structures. However, when the LIM structure is imposed the predictive ability of changes in deferred acquisition costs is higher than the predictive ability of both changes in accounts receivable and changes in insurance reserves. Our final empirical chapter contributes to the literature on accounting anomalies by investigating the value to price anomaly (V/P), where the fundamental value (V) is estimated using the residual income valuation model. Motivated by the findings of Hwang and Lee (2013), Fama and French (2015), and Fama and French (2016), Chapter Four asks whether V/P strategies reflect the risks factor or whether this is better explained by market inefficiency, and whether Fama and French's five-factor model can explain the excess return of V/P. To answer the previous questions we use data from the merger of COMPUSTAT, CRSP, I/B/E/S for all the non-financial firms listed in AMEX, NYSE, and NASDAQ during the period from 1987 to 2015. Our findings suggest that the V/P ratio is positively correlated to future stock returns after controlling for several firm characteristics, which are known to be proxies of common risks. Our results indicate that the omission of risk factors is not likely to be an explanation of the V/P effect. To answer the second question, we compare the performances of different asset pricing models by calculating the GRS F-statistics. Our findings clearly indicate that the five-factor model of Fama and French performs better than either the CAPM or the traditional Fama and French three factor model. These results confirm that the excess returns of V/P strategy vary due to the differences in size, the B/M ratio, operating profit and betas across quintile portfolios. However, these factors cannot explain all the variation in excess returns; moreover, the stocks in the high V/P may be riskier than the stocks in the low V/P portfolios in certain other dimensions.
Supervisor: Kartsaklas, A. ; Karanasos, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Residual income valuation model ; Linear information dynamics ; Asymmetric timeliness conservatism ; Value to price anomaly ; Asset pricing models