An analyst’s surname appears to play a role in how the market reacts to their forecast revisions, according to a research paper set to be published in the Journal of Accounting and Economics.
Forecast revisions by analysts with more favorable surnames were found to elicit stronger market reactions.
The researchers found that the market reaction to forecast revisions made by analysts with Middle Eastern surnames weakened after 9/11. Similarly, after the German and French government declared their opposition to the Iraq war, the market reaction to forecast revisions made by analysts with German or French surnames weakened.
The team identified countries of origin associated with surnames using US immigration records. They then measured a surname’s favorability by using the favorability ratings from Gallup poll data for countries associated with the surname.
Dr Jay Jung, assistant professor of accounting at Cass Business School, said favorability for certain surnames wasn’t associated with the quality of the forecasts.
“Our finding is consistent with the prediction based on motivated reasoning that people have a natural desire to draw conclusions that they are motivated to reach. If investors have favourable views toward an analyst due to his or her surname, they are motivated to assess the analyst’s forecasts as being more credible or of higher quality because it reduces the unpleasant inconsistency between their attitudes and judgments,” said Dr Jung.
Surname favorability was found to serve as a catalyst for an analyst’s career progression.
“We found that, conditional on good forecasting performance, having a favourable surname made it more likely for an analyst to get elected as an All-Star analyst and survive in the profession when his or her brokerage house went out of business or went through a M&A (mergers and acquisition) process,” Jung added.
Surname favorability also had an impact on price drifts in the stock market:
“The speed at which stock prices reacted to an analyst’s forecasts was faster when the analyst had a favourable surname. We found significantly smaller delayed price responses.”
Jung, Jay Heon and Kumar, Alok and Lim, Sonya S. and Yoo, Choong-Yuel, An Analyst by Any Other Surname: Surname Favorability and Market Reaction to Analyst Forecasts (October 17, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2830506 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2830506