This study focuses on the extent to which evidence of real earnings management (REM) differs between firms in various stages of their life cycles as well as between various levels of operating performance subsequent to REM. To investigate the adoption of REM for firms in different stages of their life cycles, we employ the method for classifying life-cycle stages. We find that firms in the growth stage adopt REM to a lesser degree than those in other stages. We also observe that firms engaging in REM have a better one-year-ahead industry-adjusted return on assets relative to firms that do not engage in REM, which partially supports the notion of the signaling mechanism of REM in the growth stage. In addition, we find that firms engaging in REM generally perform worse than firms that do not, particularly those in the mature stage. This is consistent with the assumption of the opportunistic intention of
managers who conduct REM.