The effect of voluntary disclosure on uncertainty around earnings announcements
Neururer, Thaddeus Andrew
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Recent research documents that voluntary disclosure—in particular, managerial forecast guidance—lowers uncertainty levels, as proxied by option implied variances. In this study I explore the effect of such voluntary disclosure on other dimensions of uncertainty. In particular, I investigate the effect of managerial guidance on the variance risk premium (VRP). Prior research predicts and provides empirical evidence of the VRP, which reflects that implied variances (on average) exceed actual variances, and exists to compensate traders, who sell variance protection for equity options. First, I confirm previous findings that implied variances are lower when firms issue management guidance. Second and more importantly, I document that the VRP is higher when firms provide guidance. I reconcile these seemingly contradictory results by (i) confirming that a significant portion of the increase in VRP is attributable to uncertainty specific to the impending earnings announcement, consistent with the primary role played by the voluntary management disclosure; and (ii) documenting that a higher moment of uncertainty—implied kurtosis levels (i.e., price jump risk)—is higher with managerial guidance. Additional tests examining characteristics of managerial guidance reveal these findings are strongest for firms issuing sporadic guidance, guidance issued close to earnings announcements, and those exhibiting the largest surprise. Overall, the evidence suggests that voluntary disclosure such as management guidance can reduce expected variance, but simultaneously increase higher order moments of uncertainty such as expected price jumps.