Two essays on gift card liabilities

Yeh, Ting-Tsen
Zhou, Jian
Business Administration
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PART 1. GIFT CARD LIABILITIES AND EARNINGS MANAGEMENT ABSTRACT This study examines whether managers use gift card liabilities to manage earnings through breakage income recognition. Breakage income is recognized when gift card liabilities are written off in managerial discretions. A clear guidance for recognizing the breakage income from gift cards was absent until 2005. Since gift card liabilities are less visible, managers can take advantage of them and use them to achieve earnings targets. I utilize hand-collected data to examine this issue and find that managers use gift card liabilities to manage earnings and to meet or beat earnings targets. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 includes several provisions limiting abuses by gift card issuers. I find that in the year of the implementation of this Act, managers decreased the earnings management relating to gift card liabilities. I also examine whether firms in the later stages of their life cycle are more likely to use gift card liabilities to engage in earnings management, and I find some supporting evidence. This study shows how and why managers use gift card liabilities to manage earnings and contributes significantly to the earnings management literature by documenting that managers use the discretion in accounting rules to achieve earnings targets. PART 2. GIFT CARD LIABILITIES AND INVESTMENT EFFICIENCY ABSTRACT Using manually collected gift card data, I examine whether gift card liabilities can serve as a source of investment funds and influence corporate investment efficiency. Investment efficiency is usually proxied by the residuals from a regression model that predicts normal capital expenditures. I find a significantly negative relationship between gift card liabilities and the magnitude of investment residuals. I also investigate whether the relationship between gift card liabilities and investment efficiency differs between financially constrained and unconstrained firms. The results indicate that financially unconstrained firms are more likely to improve investment efficiency with a higher balance of gift card liabilities than financially constrained firms. Overall, I find that gift card liabilities can provide funds for corporate investment and influence investment efficiency. This study contributes significantly to the investment efficiency literature by providing evidence of an underinvestigated phenomenon – gift card liabilities and investment efficiency.
Accounting, Breakage Income, Earnings Management, Financially Constrained Firms, Gift Card Liabilities, Gift Cards, Investment Efficiency
105 pages
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