Beginning in 2005, the EU began requiring consolidated financial reports of publicly traded firms to be prepared in accordance with EU-endorsed International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in an effort to increase the comparability of financial information across EU Member States. While some expect IFRS reporting to increase the comparability of financial information across the EU, others argue that comparability is unlikely because IFRS implementation will vary conditional on national institutions and culture. We investigate the cross-country comparability of IFRS earnings and book values of French and German firms because these two EU states have well-developed equity markets and use the same currency, while having social-economic and cultural differences that can affect managers' IFRS implementation choices. Our results indicate that French and German IFRS earnings and book values are comparable in the year subsequent to IFRS adoption, but become less comparable in the years that follow. We document differences in accounting estimates, recognition of special items, and other equity reserves between French and German firms that help explain the decrease in comparability over time. Our study adds to the growing literature on the financial statement effects of mandatory IFRS reporting, and points to possible reasons for a sustained lack of cross-country comparability of financial information under a common accounting regime.
JEL Classifications: G12, G14, G38, K22, M41, M42, M48