Article | Journal of Finance | August 2009

Rewriting History

by Alexander Ljungqvist, Christopher J. Malloy and Felicia Marston

Abstract

We document widespread ex post changes to the historical contents of the I/B/E/S analyst stock recommendations database. Across a sequence of seven downloads of the entire I/B/E/S recommendations database, obtained between 2000 and 2007, we find that between 6,594 (1.6%) and 97,579 (21.7%) of matched observations are different from one download to the next. The changes, which include alterations of recommendation levels, additions and deletions of records, and removal of analyst names, are non-random in nature: They cluster by analyst reputation, brokerage firm size and status, and recommendation boldness. The changes have a large and significant impact on the classification of trading signals and back-tests of three stylized facts: The profitability of trading signals, the profitability of changes in consensus recommendations, and persistence in individual analyst stock-picking ability.

Keywords: Competency and Skills; Stocks; Profit; Market Transactions; Reputation; Financial Services Industry;

Citation:

Ljungqvist, Alexander, Christopher J. Malloy, and Felicia Marston. "Rewriting History." Journal of Finance 64, no. 4 (August 2009): 1935–1960.