Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

George Batta

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Lan N P Phan


Almost two decades after the burst of the Dot-com bubble, investors are opinionated as to whether a new technology bubble has formed in the equities market. Similar to the late 1990's and early 2000's, many Internet firms today go through initial public offering without yet turning over a dollar of earnings, but boast certain revenue-associated performance metrics to investors promising of future success. However, investors are known to hold sentiments sensitive to earnings announcements (Seok, Cho & Ryu, 2019) and reward firms which meet or beat earnings with higher stock returns (Bartov, Givoly & Hayn, 2002). That raises a question on the content of earnings announcements: Besides earnings and cash flow, are there other factors that may influence investor decisions to trade some Internet stocks?

My primary hypothesis is that the voluntary disclosure of specific non-financial key performance indicators (NFKPI) during earnings announcement by Internet firms influences the investors' investing/trading decisions. My motivation for this research is to understand better whether there is a strategic element in the voluntary disclosure of NFKPI in Internet companies and how it may impact investors' decisions. The results could be useful to firms in their evaluations of whether to release NFKPI or similar information and to equity research analysts as well as investors in measuring their expectations and valuations of the firms' stocks. The intention of the study is not to generalize the findings to the full market, as the number of companies with the practice of voluntary disclosure of NFKPI is comparatively few compared to those without the practice. Instead, this study examines the effects of NFKPI on the stock returns of those companies which choose to disclose it.

I use event study methodology to test the statistical significance of disclosure of NFKPIs during earnings announcements. By controlling for earnings surprise and other meaningful financial ratios, I also examine how the signaling effect of NFKPI could be distinguished from the signaling effects of important information concurrently released during earnings announcements. I focus on two types of NFKPI within the Internet industry: Gross Bookings for online booking agency services and Daily Active Users for social media. As earnings reports and quarterly filings often do not necessarily come together on the same date, I hand-collected data to estimate the surprise effect of NFKPI per earnings announcement, by using available broker forecasts of the respective NFKPI as a proxy for the investor's NFKPI expectation.

The results show that while revenue surprise remains consistently the most influential variable to investors, NFKPI Surprise has a positive, statistically significant relationship with the firm's abnormal returns. Additionally, despite being insignificant when expected earnings is beat or in line with consensus, NFKPI Surprise is found statistically significant with a positive relationship to abnormal returns when expected earnings is missed. In line with existing research on management's motivation to prevent negative earnings surprises (Matsumoto, 2002), these findings imply that if firms could employ the voluntary disclosure of NFKPI to manipulate investors' impression and to cushion their stock prices against potential negative market reactions when earnings is missed.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.