, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 181-202

Impact of Earnings, Dividends and Cash Flows on Stock Returns: Case of Taiwan's Stock Market

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Abstract

The study uses Taiwan's stock market, a newly developed market with different characteristics from that of the U.S., as an experimental case to examine the influences of the market's characteristics on the relationship between stock returns and fundamental accounting information, such as earnings, dividends and cash flows. The testing period is from 1990 to 1994, right after the promulgation of Taiwan's accounting standard for statement of cash flows in 1989.

Similar to the findings of U.S. studies, the study shows that earnings data is key information for investors. Unlike the U.S. results, however, both operating income and non-operating income are positively related to stock returns. The usefulness of non-operating income to explain stock returns is due mainly to its recurrent characteristic in Taiwan. The market views non-operating income, mostly from disposal of real-estate and short-term equity investments, as a complementary factor to operating income. It is a possible common phenomenon in a booming economy. Unlike from the results of U.S. studies, Taiwan's stock returns are strongly associated with stock dividends. Cash dividends, however, are relatively less important information to the market. The fast booming economy as well as Taiwan's free tax rate on capital gains are the explanations for the different findings. The results also support McNicholes and Dravid's (1990) and etc. results that stock dividends may act as a signal for favorable future earnings. Examining the association between stock returns and cash flow information, the results indicate that stock returns are positively associated with cash flows from both operating and financing activities. The phenomenon implies that the market appreciates not only the cash inflows from operating activities, but also cash inflows from new issues of bonds or stocks for further expansion. It is consistent to Taiwan's booming economy. The finding also supports Ross (1977) and Leland and Pyles' (1977) signaling hypothesis.

The study concludes that the relationships between stock returns and fundamental variables are subject to the market's characteristics. The case of the Taiwan stock market shows that usefulness of accounting information depends upon the different roles of the information in the tested market. The results of the study also indicate that directly applying the U.S. experiences without any adjustment may cause incorrect conclusions for empirical studies.