Investor Perceptions of an Auditor's Adverse Internal Control Opinion



Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, May 2009



In response to recent corporate scandals, Congress passed the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) which, among other things, requires that the auditor render an opinion as to the effectiveness of a company’s system of internal controls. The assumption implicit in this requirement is that the new internal control opinion provides investors with value-relevant information. Our evidence suggests that an adverse audit opinion on internal control over financial reporting provides incremental value-relevant information to investors beyond that contained in the financial statement audit opinion alone. Specifically we find that an adverse audit opinion on internal controls over financial reporting relative to an unqualified opinion is significantly associated with investors assessing a higher risk of financial statement misstatement, higher risk of a future financial statement restatement, higher information asymmetry, lower financial statement transparency, higher risk premium, higher cost of capital, lower sustainability of earnings, and lower earnings predictability. Overall, our empirical results support our hypotheses that the auditor’s opinion on the internal controls over financial reporting provides financial statement users with value-relevant information.

Yi-Jing Wu