DOI: 10.1002/jcaf.22711 ISSN: 1044-8136

Mechanisms of revenue manipulation under ASC 606

Benjamin Hubbard
  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • Accounting


The implementation of ASC 606 significantly changed revenue recognition practices for many firms in the capital market by increasing the level of discretion required to record revenue amounts. I examine the impact of this increase in discretion on revenue manipulation around external targets. I find that firms near analyst revenue targets have increased levels of discretionary revenues under ASC 606 relative to their peers, indicating increased revenue manipulation. Further analysis reveals that these increased levels of discretionary revenues are concentrated in firms characterized as having increased opportunity or incentive to use ASC 606 opportunistically to manipulate revenues upwards. Specifically, firms with more complex revenue operations and firms in earlier life cycles are associated with increased discretionary revenues under ASC 606. I also provide preliminary evidence of revenue manipulation varying systematically with industry characteristics. This paper is one of the first to provide evidence of capital market consequences stemming from ASC 606, while also highlighting the impact of firm characteristics on the choice to manage revenues.

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