Conservative analysts react more to negative news than positive news, and the market response is greater for forecast revisions from conservative analysts (Hugon and Muslu 2010; Keskek and Tse 2018). Little is known about how firms and managers respond to a lower benchmark resulting from having a more conservative analyst following. We examine the effect of analyst conservatism on firms just meeting or beating the benchmark via accrual-based earnings management. We find that firms with a more conservative analyst following have lower earnings benchmarks and are more likely to just meet or beat the consensus. Additionally, these firms meet the lower benchmark with lower levels of earnings management, with this effect being strongest in poor information environments. Collectively, our results suggest that management’s benchmark meeting behavior is impacted by the conservatism of the firm’s analyst following.

JEL Classifications: G14; G24; M40; M41.

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