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Using 1995 through 1999 data from the United States and seven other countries with different sets of national accounting standards (Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom), we test whether the cash flow component of earnings is more persistent than the accrual component, and then whether the relative persistence of these two earnings components is reflected in stock market returns. Using the Mishkin model employed by Sloan (1996) to test the data for each of the countries, we find that, while reported cash flows are significantly more persistent than accruals in each of the eight accounting regimes, Canadian companies are the only ones for which the pricing of equity securities is clearly efficient with regard to cash flow and accrual information. While there is some evidence for this stock market efficiency for the UK and German companies, it is not conclusive. For firms from France, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and the United States, the differences observed between the persistence of cash flows and accruals are not reflected in stock prices.
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