Further Evidence On The Ability Of FIFO And LIFO Earnings To Predict Operating Cash Flows: An Industry Specific Analysis

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Brock Murdoch
Bruce Dehning
Paul Krause


FIFO Earnings, LIFO Earnings, Forecasting Operating Cash Flows, Incremental Predictive Content


The continuingconvergence of U.S. GAAP with International Accounting Standards has broughtinto question the future use of the LIFO inventory method in the U.S. Since theFinancial Accounting Standards Board (2010) has stipulated that earnings shouldaid investors and creditors in their quest to forecast future cash flows to theenterprise, this research examines whether FIFO earnings or LIFO earnings ispreferable, for this purpose, as an aid to ex ante operating cash flow itself,over a three-year forecast horizon. We conclude that ex ante operating cashflows are quite useful in forecasting operating cash flows across industries forup to three years-ahead. We find differingresults with respect to the incremental predictive content of LIFO versus FIFO earnings,depending on industry and the forecast horizon. For the Manufacturing industry andthe Services industry, LIFO earnings is superior to FIFO earnings forforecasting operating cash flows across the entire three year forecast horizon.In contrast, for the Retail Trade industry and the Finance, Insurance, and RealEstate industry, FIFO earnings is preferable for all three forecasts ofoperating cash flows. For firms in the Transportation,Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services industry and in the WholesaleTrade industry, mixed results are observed. Insufficient LIFO data areavailable for evaluations of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing industry,the Mining industry, the Construction industry, and the Public Administrationindustry.


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