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The impact of the anchoring and adjustment bias on analysts’ forecast in Vietnam stock market

The impact of the anchoring and adjustment bias on analysts’ forecast in Vietnam stock market. In this research, we consider a well-known behavioral bias of financial market participants, the anchoring and adjustment bias described by Tversky and Kahneman (1974). Empirical findings have shown that this heuristic has significant economic consequences for the efficiency of the financial market of Vietnam.

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Journal of Economics and Development Vol. 15, No.3, December 2013, pp. 59 - 76

ISSN 1859 0020

The Impact of The Anchoring and
Adjustment Bias on Analysts’ Forecast
in Vietnam Stock Market
Nguyen Duc Hien
National Economics University, Vietnam
Email: hiennd@neu.edu.vn
Trinh Quang Hung
National Economics University, Vietnam
Bui Huong Giang
National Economics University, Vietnam

In this research, we consider a well-known behavioral bias of financial market
participants, the anchoring and adjustment bias described by Tversky and
Kahneman (1974). Empirical findings have shown that this heuristic has significant
economic consequences for the efficiency of the financial market of Vietnam.
Specifically, we investigate the existence of anchoring and adjustment bias when
stock analysts forecast future earnings of a firm by examining 661 analysts’ reports
forecasting prices in Vietnam from 2009 - 2012. In addition, we find that anchoring
and adjustment bias appears to have considerable influence over both male and
female analysts. With the multi-variable regression model, we find out the effects of
anchoring and adjustment bias on different group of analysts as well as the time
Keywords: Anchoring and adjustment bias, analysts’ earnings forecasts, forecasting error, behavioral finance.

Journal of Economics and Development


Vol. 15, No.3, December 2013

1. Introduction

Kahneman (1974). Along with two more wellknown heuristics (representativeness and
availability), people are assumed to use this
heuristic in the process of making decisions
under conditions of uncertainty. Tversky and
Kahneman define anchoring as a phenomenon
when people make estimates by starting from
an initial value or reference point, or arbitrary
price levels. The initial value or starting point
may be established from the formulation of the
problem, or it may be the result of a partial
computation. However, the adjustments are
typically insufficient. That is, different starting
points yield different estimates, which are
biased towards the initial values. The anchoring and adjustment bias is proven by numerous
studies in the world to be one of the strongest
biases affecting people when making decisions. Many of the researches conducted relate
to behavioral science and have a wide application in other fields. Particularly, Richard Block
and David Harper (1991) in their study
“Overconfidence in estimation: Testing the
anchoring and adjustment hypothesis” provides the first test of anchoring and adjustment
explanation for another bias, that is, overconfidence. In addition, Nicholas Epley and
Thomas Gilovich (2006) designed five different experiments to explain why the use of the
anchoring-and-adjustment heuristic yields reliable anchoring effects-that is, why adjustments
tend to be insufficient. In the field of economics, we also find various studies that use the
regression model to show the existence of
forecast errors cause by anchoring bias; such
as the study of Campbell and Sharpe (2007),
Ichiue and Yuyama (2009, JMBC), Tz-Pu,
Chang (2012). There are also a considerable

Stock analysts are undeniably an essential
part of stock markets today. They carry out
research on publicly traded companies and
make recommendations on the stock price of
those companies. As the most specialized in a
particular industry or sector of the economy,
they exert considerable influence in today’s
marketplace. Analysts’ recommendations or
reports can influence the price of a company’s
stock - especially when the recommendations
are widely distributed through television
appearances or through other electronic and
print media. The analysts’ recommendations
are supposed to help investors make informed
decisions. As a general rule, investors consider
analyst’s recommendations as one of the
essential factors when deciding whether to
buy, hold, or sell a stock. Therefore, stock analysts’ recommendations receive a lot of attention and have significant impact on every participant in the financial market. In the theory
of standard finance, stock analysts should be
“rational”, logical persons and not affected by
any subjective or objective reasons. However,
we cannot deny the effects of psychology factors on people and analysts are not an exception. Thus, not surprisingly, the activities of
stock analysts have been a fertile ground for
behavior research. Prior studies have shown
that analysts often suffer from a number of
biases such as herding behavior, overconfidence, and so on. However, in our research we
consider the behavior of financial market participants from a difference perspective by
focusing on anchoring and adjustment bias.
The anchoring and adjustment heuristic was
first theorized by Amos Tversky and Daniel
Journal of Economics and Development


Vol. 15, No.3, December 2013

the effect of anchoring and adjustment bias on
different group of analysts as well as the time
horizon and to find out supplementary contributors to forecasting errors.

number of researches on the anchoring bias in
the real estate field. Northcraft and Neale
(1987) suggest that real-estate pricing decisions depended on the listing price for the
property, which serve as an anchor value. Later
on, by using a hedonic model with a unique
dataset, which includes the completion of all
transactions in the Taiwan real estate market,
Chang, Yeh and Chao (2012) provide evidence
of the role of anchoring bias in the Taiwan real
estate market.

2. Theoretical framework and literature
2.1. Theoretical framework
Reasoning and models used in the research
are built upon the basis of two main theories:
the efficient market hypothesis assumptions,
and the behavioral finance theory.

Recently in Vietnam, there have been some
published studies on behavioral bias in asset
pricing practice. Moreover, the majority of
these researches take investors as the subjects
of the study while analysts are somewhat
ignored in this field of research. Meanwhile,
stock analysts play a vital role in the stock
market – giving guidelines and recommendations for investors. To cover the gap in the literature, this paper examines the relationship
between the anchoring and adjustment bias
and analysts’ forecast values. By using regression analysis and hypothesis testing, we
attempt to find out whether stock analysts are
truly “rational” and specifically, we want the
answers for the questions: “Do analysts in
Vietnam anchor when making pricing decision?” and “What is the effect of anchoring
and adjustment bias on the forecasts of analysts?” Our findings in this research has provided concrete proof that anchoring and
adjustment bias is one of the factors contributing to the forecasting error and affecting the
quality of analysts’ evaluations in Vietnam.
Besides, other issues related to the behavioral
bias and forecasting practice are also explored
in this research. Some of them are to identify
Journal of Economics and Development

2.1.1. The efficient market hypothesis
Initiated by Bachelier (1900) and Kendall
(1953) and developed by Eugene Fama in the
1960s, the efficient market hypothesis states
that in an efficient market, prices fully reflect
all available information and the change in the
price of securities follows a random walk as
unexpected information appears.
According to the efficient market hypothesis, there are three forms of market efficiency.
These are strong form, semi-strong form and
weak form. The weak form of efficiency of
the market indicates that all past information is
incorporated in the stock price. As a result, one
cannot beat the market using technical analysis
of historical price movements. As for the semistrong form of efficiency of the market, stock
prices present all the past and the current publicly available information such as financial
statements, management quality, and product
line. Therefore, no abnormal return can be
gained using technical and fundamental analysis. However, insider traders can still beat the
market. Finally, in the strong form of efficiency, all information including past, publicly
available and private information, is reflected

Vol. 15, No.3, December 2013

of Daniel Kahneman for his study on prospect

in the stock price. This form of efficiency
implies that even inside traders cannot make
more than the market.

As a combination of psychology, sociology
and finance, behavioral finance applies psychological theories to explain financial issues.
By introducing the behavioral factor – reaction
of humans under certain stimulation - to the
decision making process, behavioral finance
has succeeded in supplementing the standard
theories of finance. Some of the underlying
assumptions are counter to the assumptions
about the rational behavior of market efficiency theory. According to the behavioral finance
theory, market participants are irrational in the
market. As a result, they often have biased
expectations about the future earning of the
stock they are holding. These irrationalities
could appear in one individual, several people,
or even in a whole system, as in the case of
herding behavior. Furthermore, the market
definition in behavioral finance theory is not as
perfect as in the efficient market hypothesis.
There is a constraint on the arbitrage opportunities in the market. These constraints could be
budget limit or information mismatch which
prevents arbitrageurs to make immediate modification for the market. As a result, the market
price cannot be corrected instantly but continues to reflect the bias expectation of investors
over a longer period of time.

One significant feature of the efficient market hypothesis is that all forms of market efficiency must happen under the influence of
many strong assumptions. The first assumption dictates that all participants actively take
part in the market and they are rational profit
maximizing investors. The second assumption
states that even if there are some irrational
investors in the market, the effect of their irrational trades will cancel out each other or be
nullified by rational arbitrageurs. The third
assumption is about the information in the
market. It states that information in the market
is costless and arrives at the same time for all
participants. All investors react quickly to the
news and make the price change accordingly.
The efficient market hypothesis was used
widely and was the foundation of many modern pricing models such as the capital assets
pricing model (CAPM) until it was challenged
by the behavioral finance theory, which is
becoming more and more popular.
2.1.2. Behavioral finance theory
Behavioral finance theory has a long history
which can be traced back to the classical economics era with “The theory of moral sentiments” of Adam Smith. However, this theory
is not widely accepted and until the second
half of the 20th century when Tversky and
Daniel Kahneman pointed out three major
heuristics – representativeness, availability
heuristic and anchoring and adjustment in
“Judgment under Uncertainty” (1973). In
2002, the behavioral finance theory achieved
its deserved recognition with the Nobel Prize
Journal of Economics and Development

In the field of behavioral finance, heuristic
and behavioral bias studies play an important
role in explaining the irrational behavior of
market participants. Heuristics study in the
psychological context is the study of the mental processes involved in problem solving with
a view to gaining insight of the rule of thumb
that our brain follows when we have to make a

Vol. 15, No.3, December 2013

quick decision. A behavioral bias or cognitive
bias is the reaction that people tend to apply
under certain circumstances which leads to
distortion in perception and inaccurate judgment. A number of biases have been proven to
exist in the pricing decisions of market participants such as overconfidence, overreaction
and underreaction, anchoring and adjustment
and herding behavior. Specifically, in this
study, we will concentrate on only one bias,
and that is anchoring and adjustment.

different time periods. Three of them featured
the ending points of bull markets and the other
three featured the ending points of bear markets. De Bondt asked the subjects to give their
prediction of the stock price seven months and
13 months after the last price was recorded in
each of the charts. Both point estimation and
interval estimation were required. The students
had to provide a range with a confidence interval of 80% so there was only 10% for the stock
price to go over the upper tail or less than the
lower tail.

2.2. Literature review on anchoring and
adjustment on stock forecasting

With the results of the experiment, De
Bondt came to these conclusions. The first
finding was that most students make predictions about stock prices by extrapolating the
trend they recognize from the graph. This tendency is known as “trend following” or
“extrapolation bias”. The second finding was
that people are prone to make wider interval
forecasts for stock price histories that have
exhibited greater volatility. Finally, the third
finding was that under the influence of anchoring and adjustment bias, people skew their
interval forecasts. De Bondt suggests that there
were two anchors people used in the experiment. The first anchor was the slope that students perceived from the graph. The second
anchor was the average stock prices in the
input data.

Evidence of the anchoring and adjustment
bias in stock valuation has been found in
numerous studies since the 1990s. However,
most of these studies were carried out using
data from the US stock market and concentrate
on individual investors. Recently, researchers
in emerging countries have found some indications of this behavioral factor in their market
De Bondt (Betting on Trends: Intuitive
Forecasts of Financial Risk and Return - 1993)
contributed a significant study on how anchoring and adjustment bias affects forecasts of
future stock returns. In the research, De Bondt
carried out at an experiment at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. The subjects of the
experiment were twenty-seven students, both
undergraduate and MBA students. All subjects
had completed at least two courses in finance;
therefore, they were familiar with basic financial knowledge as well as the market efficiency hypotheses. Six stock price charts were
shown to the subjects; each chart presented the
stock price for two years. The charts De Bondt
used were actually the price of S&P 500 in six
Journal of Economics and Development

De Bondt’s experiment can be considered as
one of the first studies that prove people have
a tendency to anchor their estimations when
making pricing decisions. After De Bondt,
more researches in the field of anchoring and
adjustment in pricing activity have emerged.
In those studies, the researchers not only tried
to examine the existence of anchoring and

Vol. 15, No.3, December 2013

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