Accounting rules and value relevance: A new perspective from the Italian market

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Marco Rotili, Alessandro Giosi ORCID logo, Giacomo Ceccobelli

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The purpose of this study is to question the basic assumption of the higher value relevance (meaning its superior ability to represent the value of assets and liabilities) of the International Accounting Standard (IAS-IFRS), as compared to Italian accounting practices. Value relevance refers to the vast literature which investigates if and how financial data includes useful information for investors; in other words, if it represents a robust basis for their investment decisions. Analyzing both Anglo-Saxon and other European countries, the literature shows a heterogeneous scenario and divergent results. Unlike previous studies, this study links market and book values by means of the price to book value ratio, considering a sample of Italian listed companies on the Mercato Telematico Azionario, the main segment of the Italian Stock Exchange. Moreover, to strengthen the empirical results the research takes into account a longer period (1996-2015), bearing in mind the change in Italian accounting practices occurring in 2005 as a result of the adoption of IAS-IFRS. The study is consistent with that part of the literature which argues that the accounting discipline underlying IAS-IFRS shows a discrepancy between its theoretical purpose of expressing the current value of a company and its applicable accounting standards. In this respect, the results obtained are somewhat different from the mainstream view, suggesting that the introduction of the IAS-IFRS does not contribute to reducing the gap between the stock market capitalization and the respective book value of a company. Therefore, the Italian national accounting discipline, based on conservative accounting, quite surprisingly appears more value relevant; in other words, it seems to be more able to capture the business value assumed by investors.

Keywords: Value Relevance, IAS-IFRS, Fair Value Accounting, Italian Accounting Standards, Accounting Conservatism

Authors’ individual contribution: Conceptualization – M.R. and G.C.; Methodology – M.R.; Writing – M.R. and G.C.; Funding – A.G.; Supervision – A.G.

JEL Classification: M41, G39

Received: 15.10.2019
Accepted: 20.12.2019
Published online: 21.12.2019

How to cite this paper: Rotili, M., Giosi, A., & Ceccobelli, G. (2019). Accounting rules and value relevance: A new perspective from the Italian market [Special issue]. Corporate Ownership & Control, 17(1), 255-263.