October 1, 2014 / 4:28 AM / 4 years ago

If analysts don't ask questions, expect stock declines: study

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Earnings conference calls that inspire little more than silence are not a great sign for the company’s shares in the days that follow, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin found that when executives did not receive questions or significant feedback on earnings calls, the company could expect to see its market capitalization fall between $4.3 million and $6.1 million in the next five days.

After calls with limited questions, researchers found, company executives are perceived to have more information than investors and other market participants, resulting in a negative market reaction. Small companies covered by fewer analysts were more likely to receive no questions.

The study’s authors analyzed about 50,000 earnings calls from 2002 to 2012, focusing on the nearly 9,500 that received little feedback during the open question-and-answer session of the call. The companies’ negative returns lasted for five days after such calls, performing up to 135 basis points worse than companies comparable in size and analyst coverage in which the conference call was a bit more lively.

“When you do not interact, the unintended economic consequences are going to catch up with you,” said Shuping Chen, associate professor at the university’s McCombs School of Business and lead author of the study.

Chen said earnings calls help improve transparency and information flow, but without analyst engagement, companies don’t see that benefit.

“The very set of firms who need more visibility, more liquidity, are hammered because they [receive] no questions,” she said.

Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Leslie Adler

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