The authors find that many of the measures that investors traditionally rely on are actually poor predictors of future performance, including return on assets and earnings yields. Instead, cash-based measures are superior to operating profitability and gross profitability-to-total asset measures. Specifically, the authors find that through a direct cash flow method, investors can understand how value is being created and derive a better estimate of the true intrinsic value of the firm’s equity.
The authors’ findings support recent initiatives by both the International Accounting Standards Board and the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board to require reconstructed financial statements. For investors, this provides a means of uncovering important information about a company’s future prospects.