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본 연구는 한국 기업을 대상으로 이익의 질 가운데 가치관련성(value-relevance)에 초점을 두어, 기업이 보고하는 이익과 주식수익률과의 관계를 나타내는 이익반응계수(earnings response coefficient)가 국제다각화에 의해 어떠한 영향을 받는지를 분석하였다. 국제다각화가 기업의 가치를 증가시킬 것이라는 가설을 설정하고, 1994년부터 2009년 사이에 한국의 유가증권 시장 및 코스닥 시장에 상장된 기업을 대상으로, 국제다각화 수준에 따른 이익의 가치관련성 차이, 기업의 성장 정도에 따른 국제다각화 수준이 이익반응계수에 미치는 영향, 감사품질의 차이에 따른 국제다각화 수준이 이익반응계수에 미치는 영향에 대하여 분석을 수행하였다. 실증분석 결과는 다음과 같다. 첫째, 기업의 국제다각화 수준이 높을수록 이익반응계수가 증가하는 것으로 나타났다. 둘째, 전년 대비 매출 및 자산의 성장을 보인 기업일수록 국제다각화 수준이 이익반응계수에 미치는 양(+)의 상관관계가 더 큰 것으로 나타났다. 셋째, 국제다각화 수준이 이익반응계수에 미치는 영향이 BIG4 법인이 감사한 기업들에 한하여 나타났다. 본 연구결과는 투자자들이 기업의 이익을 평가하는데 있어서 국제다각화 변수를 긍정적으로 평가하고 있으며, 이러한 국제다각화 효과는 미래 성장 잠재력이 더 클수록, 또는 감사품질이 높을수록 더욱 긍정적으로 평가하고 있음을 보여주는 의미 있는 결과이다. 본 연구는 한국이라는 제한적 시장에 기반을 둔 기업의 국제다각화가 이익의 가치관련성에 어떠한 관련성을 갖는가를 규명함으로써, 국내 기업들에게 국제다각화의 중요성에 대한 근거를 제시했을 뿐만 아니라, 투자자들의 의사결정에 유용한 정보를 제공했다는 점에서 의의가 있다. 또한, 기업의 감사인 선택에 대한 기준을 제공함과 동시에 실무 감사인 및 이를 감리하는 규제기관의 감사품질 향상 노력에 대한 시사점을 제공한다. 끝으로, 그동안의 선행연구에서는 국제다각화와 기업 가치와의 관련성을 논의하면서 자본비용에 초점을 둔 반면, 본 연구에서는 국제다각화와 이익의 속성을 심도 있게 다루었다는데 그 의의가 있다.


This study examines how investors perceive international diversification in valuing earnings of Korea's multinational companies. Specifically, we investigate whether more internationally diversified firms have significantly different earnings response coefficients(ERC) compared to the relatively less diversified firms. In addition, we incorporate two factors, growth and audit quality, into the investigation of international diversification effect, and examine how the growing firms or higher audit quality affect the association between ERC and international diversification. The expansion into overseas markets enhances the firm's growth opportunities by allowing firms to overcome the limitation of already fully exploited domestic market. Many Korean firms are executing business and product diversification as well as global expansion in order to grow beyond domestic market. The government is also promoting international diversification of Korean companies with various policy supports, and the export of Korean companies has shown constant growth. As documented in prior studies, however, internationally diversified firms are likely to face various additional risks and information uncertainty, due to the differences in culture, politics, languages, regulation, business environment, etc. In this regard, international diversification may represent positive and negative aspects at the same time. Therefore, this study aims to examine the effect of international diversification, which previous studies suggest different results, by measuring earnings quality. Whereas previous researches used the cost of equity capital or Tobin’s q as a proxy of firm value, this study analyzes the value of international diversification with earning’s quality as a unique contribution. This study hypothesizes that 1) international diversification is likely to increase the value relevance of earnings, 2) the positive effect of international diversification on ERC is likely to be more pronounced for the growing firms and 3) for the firms with higher audit quality. We examine the hypotheses by using 13,291 firm-years of Korean firms listed in KSE and KOSDAQ between 1994 and 2009. As a proxy for international diversification, we employ the percentage of foreign sales out of total sales. Our empirical results are summarized as follows. First, we find that as firms are more internationally diversified the value relevance of earnings increases, implying that investors positively incorporate international diversification into their assessment of earnings. It means that international diversification enhances the firm’s flexibility in dealing with volatile business environment and ultimately increases corporate value. The results also reflect the characteristics of limited Korean market that the investors expect the positive aspects of diversification to outweigh the negatives. Second, we find that the positive effects of international diversification on value relevance of earnings are more pronounced for the growing firms. This result is in accordance with Bodnar and Weintrop(1997) theory that investors highly value international diversification because of higher growth opportunities in foreign segments. Third, higher audit quality strengthens the positive effect of international diversification on ERC. More importantly, we find that the positive effects of international diversification are shown only for the firms audited by BIG4 auditor, not for the firms audited by non-BIG 4 auditors. This suggests that as higher audit quality provides higher credibility for firms' financial reporting, the negative aspects of international diversification are minimized, thus increasing positive effects of international diversification on ERC. In order to enhance the robustness of the empirical results, we performed additional tests controlling endogeneity and sample period (IMF crisis, global financial crisis, early adoption of K-IFRS) and using foreign asset ratio over total asset as a proxy of international diversification, and the results supported our hypothesis. Our findings in this study build on the literature on value relevance of earnings. First, this study shows how investors incorporate international diversification in assessing firms' earnings using Korean market. Second, this study shows that growth opportunity has an incremental impact on international diversification effect, in support of prior studies that growth opportunity affects higher value-relevance of foreign earnings. Lastly, it is the first study to show that audit quality is a significant factor in assessing international diversification effect on value relevance of earnings. This study provides empirical evidence on the importance of international diversification to Korean firms and useful information to investors for making investment decisions. It also suggests additional criteria for auditor selection and highlights the need for monitoring authorities to strive for audit quality improvement. The difference in investors’ reactions to various business locations confirmed by this study implies the need for improving disclosures on business divisions.