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THE USE OF HISTORICAL DATA IN ACCOUNTING RESEARCH: THE CASE OF THE AMERICAN SUGAR REFINING COMPANY

Robert Bricker and Kevin Brown
The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 24, No. 2 (December 1997), pp. 1-24
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40697484
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE USE OF HISTORICAL DATA IN ACCOUNTING RESEARCH: THE CASE OF THE AMERICAN SUGAR REFINING COMPANY
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Abstract

In 1908, the American Sugar Refining Company (ASR) reversed its long-held policy of secrecy as to its financial condition and performance. Prior work, applying contemporary capital market methods to ASR security price data of that period, has suggested a value to ASR shareholders of this policy reversal. This paper examines the historical record of that time and presents additional evidence on this matter, particularly in terms of identifying potentially confounding events occurring during the period under study. The results of this analysis suggest a difficulty in attributing observed abnormal returns to ASR's secrecy policy reversal on the basis of the results obtained from applying capital markets methods. This analysis is useful for scholars interested in applying modern capital market methods to historical data. It highlights the significance of the possible effects of contemporaneous historical events, focuses attention on the importance of a deep understanding of the historical period studied, and suggests a value in combining historical and empirical-markets methods to gain a richer understanding of the events and conditions in the time period under study.

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