Predicting Risk from Financial Reports with Regression

We address a text regression problem: given a piece of text, predict a real-world continuous quantity associated with the text’s meaning. In this work, the text is an SEC-mandated financial report published annually by a publiclytraded company, and the quantity to be predicted is volatility of stock returns, an empirical measure of financial risk. We apply wellknown regression techniques to a large corpus of freely available financial reports, constructing regression models of volatility for the period following a report. Our models rival past volatility (a strong baseline) in predicting the target variable, and a single model that uses both can significantly outperform past volatility. Interestingly, our approach is more accurate for reports after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, giving some evidence for the success of that legislation in making financial reports more informative.