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A key task for CEOs is to communicate with analysts and investors about their companies’ past performance and prospects in quarterly earnings conference calls. Some CEOs speak fuzzily, frequently using words such as “approximately”, “probably”, and “maybe.” Others rarely use such tentative words. That is, they speak clearly. We show that CEO clarity is a matter of personal style; it is not driven by fundamental uncertainty in the companies’ business activity. Analysts and the stock market respond more strongly to earnings news conveyed by clear CEOs. Past performance does not explain the style of a newly appointed CEO. However, when a ?rm does appoint a more clear-talking CEO, Tobin’s Q increases and analyst recommendations become more favorable. Overall, investors and analysts appear to value clear talk.


Dzielinski, Michal, Alexander F. Wagner, and Richard J. Zeckhauser. "CEO Clarity." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP17-017, May 2017.