Purpose ‐ The objective of this paper is to examine the use of indicators of intellectual capital (IC) by financial analysts employed by brokerage firms, so-called "sell-side analysts", and based on the findings draw conclusions on the perceived usefulness of different
categories of indicators. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The basis for the paper is a content analysis of 250 sell-side financial analyst reports written on a respective number of randomly selected S&P 500 companies. The study describes the use of IC information as leading
indicators of future performance and identifies the contextual factors related to the use of such indicators. Findings ‐ The results reveal frequent use of IC indicators in analyst reports. Statistical analysis of the results indicates industry to be a contextual factor that
is significantly related to the number of indicators used. Moreover, a majority of the IC indicators refer to relational capital, whereas indicators on human and structural capital are less frequent. Originality/value ‐ Information on the use of IC indicators is relevant to companies
in their information disclosure process. Furthermore, understanding the behavior of users of financial information facilitates the work of standard setters.