Theses Doctoral

The Subscription Economy: Implications for Valuation and Earnings Management

Chen, Yue

The subscription economy — wherein firms offer products and services for recurring fees — has witnessed substantial growth in the last two decades. When valuing firms that rely on recurring revenue (hereafter recurring revenue firms), investors adopt valuation methods that prioritize future revenue over current performance, altering the earnings management incentives for these firms.

I first document fundamental differences in recurring revenue firms: they tend to be smaller and younger, and they have greater revenue persistence, investment efficiency, and profitability. They experience more pronounced stock market reactions to revenue and earnings, but only when future revenue indicators (deferred revenue) are high. To align with growth-focused investor valuation methods, recurring revenue firms avoid premature revenue recognition to maintain a high level of deferred revenue. Instead, they cut discretionary expenses to meet earnings targets and excessively defer revenue to enhance their valuation. These insights underscore how earnings management incentives evolve in response to the changing economy.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Nissim, Doron
Rajgopal, Shivaram
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 17, 2024