In this study, we examine the proposition that the auditor's going-concern modified opinion is a valuable risk communication to the equity market that results in a shift of the market's perception of financially distressed firms. Specifically, our analyses reveal that the market valuation is significantly altered from a focus on both the income statement and balance sheet to a balance sheet-only focus in the year a company receives a first-time going-concern modified opinion. These results hold even after controlling for several common measures of financial distress and when examining a larger control sample of distressed firms. We also document that the market devalues a company's inventory and places increased weight on cash, receivables, and long-term assets and liabilities as a result of the auditor's modification. This indicates that the going-concern modification provides incremental information specifically related to abandonment or adaptation risk. Our results provide evidence that the market interprets the going-concern modified audit opinion as an important communication of risk that results in a substantial shift in the structure of the market valuation for distressed firms.
Data Availability: All data are available from public sources.
JEL Classifications: M41.