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Accounting and the Macroeconomy: The Case of Aggregate Price-Level Effects on Individual Stocks

Konchitchki, Yaniv (2013): Accounting and the Macroeconomy: The Case of Aggregate Price-Level Effects on Individual Stocks. Published in: Financial Analysts Journal , Vol. 69, No. 6 (2013): pp. 40-54.

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Abstract

This study sheds new light on the cross-sectional effects of inflation, which have substantial implications for stock valuation. I use financial statement analysis to examine systematic stock-valuation effects of aggregate price-level changes on individual companies, focusing on the implications for both researchers and investment practitioners. I develop inflation-adjustment procedures that are straightforward for investors to implement in real time for extracting the inflation effect on individual companies. I find that inflation-based investment strategies conditioned on information available to investors as of the initial investment and rebalancing dates result in significant risk-adjusted returns. I also investigate the sources of abnormal returns to inflation-based investment strategies. Specifically, I estimate two separate components of the inflation effect on individual companies, one based on only monetary holdings (using the net position of monetary holdings) and the other based on only nonmonetary holdings. Investigating the stock-valuation implications of extracting the components-based inflation effect reveals striking evidence. In particular, investing based on the inflation effect on companies’ net monetary holdings results in insignificant abnormal hedge returns. In contrast, investing based on the inflation effect on companies’ nonmonetary holdings consistently yields economically and statistically significant abnormal hedge returns. These findings indicate that inflation-based abnormal hedge returns are driven not by the exposure of companies’ net monetary holdings to inflation but, rather, by the exposure of their nonmonetary holdings to inflation. These results are consistent with the fact that companies’ nonmonetary holdings are usually held for several years and thus accumulate inflationary effects over time whereas their monetary holdings are, on average, naturally hedged because the exposure of monetary assets cancels the exposure of monetary liabilities for the average company. In addition, I examine the direction of the stock returns to real-time investment strategies.

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