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A Guide to Earnings and Financial Reporting Quality. This chapter considers the quality of reported financial information, which is a critical element in evaluating financial statement data. Why Earnings Quality. analyst should develop AN EARNINGS FIGURE that reflects the

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A Guide to Earnings and Financial Reporting Quality


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a guide to earnings and financial reporting quality
A Guide to Earnings and Financial Reporting Quality

This chapter considers the quality of reported financial information, which is a critical element in evaluating financial statement data

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

why earnings quality
Why Earnings Quality

analyst should develop

AN EARNINGS FIGURE

that reflects the

FUTURE ONGOING POTENTIAL

of the firm

OUR OBJECTIVE IS NOT FRAUD DETECTION

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

a guide to earnings and financial reporting quality cont
A Guide to Earnings and Financial Reporting Quality(cont.)

The earnings statement provides

management with opportunities for

influencing the outcome of reported

earnings in ways that may not best

represent economic reality or the

future operating potential of a firm

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

a guide to earnings and financial reporting quality cont1
A Guide to Earnings and Financial Reporting Quality (cont.)
  • The primary focus of this chapter:
    • To provide a step-by-step guide
    • To provide an approach to use in analyzing and interpreting the qualitative factors

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

a checklist for earnings quality
A Checklist for Earnings Quality

Major areas on the checklist include:

  • Sales
  • Cost of Goods Sold
  • Operating Expenses
  • Nonoperating Revenue and Expense
  • Other Issues

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

sales
Sales

Potential areas include:

1. Premature revenue recognition

  • Gross vs. net basis
  • Vendor financing
  • Allowance for doubtful accounts
  • Price vs. volume changes
  • Real vs. nominal growth

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sales cont
Sales (cont.)

1. Premature revenue recognition:

According to GAAP, revenue should not

be recognized until there is evidence

that a true sale has taken place

Many firms have violated this accounting

principle by recording revenue before the conditions for a true sale have been met

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sales cont1
Sales (cont.)

2. Gross vs. net basis:

Another tactic to boost revenues is to record sales at the gross rather than the net price

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sales cont2
Sales (cont.)

3. Vendor financing:

Some companies use vendor financing to increase revenues by lending their customers (other companies) money to purchase their products

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sales cont3
Sales (cont.)

4. Allowance for doubtful accounts:

This is a type of reserve account that can

be manipulated by under- or overestimating bad debt expenses

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sales cont4
Sales (cont.)

5. Price vs. volume changes:

In general, higher quality earnings would be the product of both volume and price increases (during inflation)

6. Real vs. nominal growth:

Important to determine if sales are growing in “real” (inflation-adjusted) as well as “nominal” (as reported) terms

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

cost of goods sold
Cost of Goods Sold

Potential areas include:

  • Cost-flow assumption for inventory
  • Base LIFO layer liquidations
  • Fulfillment costs
  • Loss recognitions on write-downs of inventories

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

cost of goods sold1
Cost of Goods Sold

7. Cost-flow assumption for inventory:

LIFO results in the matching of current costs with current revenues and produces higher quality earnings than either FIFO or average cost

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

cost of goods sold cont
Cost of Goods Sold (cont.)

9. Fulfillment costs:

An expense account that some companies add to operating expenses to record costs that are typically classified as cost of goods sold, impacting their gross profit margin and lowering their quality of earnings

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

cost of goods sold cont1
Cost of Goods Sold (cont.)

10. Loss recognitions on write-downs of

inventories:

If the value of inventory falls below its original cost, the inventory is written down to market value.

When the write-down is included in cost of goods sold, the gross profit margin is impacted

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses
Operating Expenses

Potential areas include:

  • Discretionary expenses
  • Depreciation
  • Asset impairment
  • “Big bath” or restructuring charges
  • Reserves
  • In-process research and development
  • Pension accounting-interest rate assumptions

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont
Operating Expenses (cont.)

11. Discretionary expenses:

If variable operating expenses such as repair and maintenance, research and development, and advertising and marketing are reduced primarily to benefit the current year’s reported earnings, the long-run impact on operating profit may be detrimental and lower the quality of those earnings

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont1
Operating Expenses (cont.)

12. Depreciation:

  • misclassification of operating expenses as capital expenditures creates poor quality of financial reporting on all financial statements
  • comparing companies is difficult when they use different depreciation methods and different estimates for the lives of their long-lived assets

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont2
Operating Expenses (cont.)

13. Asset impairment:

The write-down of asset values, following the principle of carrying assets at the lower of cost or market value, affects the comparability and thus the quality

of financial data

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont3
Operating Expenses (cont.)

14. “Big bath” or restructuring charges:

Large charges classified as restructuring charges are sometimes used by companies to clean up their balance sheet

Ongoing restructuring of a company can be a signal of underlying problems

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont4
Operating Expenses (cont.)

15. Reserves:

Often created to set aside funds today to cover some known future cost

Abuse occurs when funds are set aside in good years (i.e., reducing net income) and then shifting the reserve amount to the income statement in poor years

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont5
Operating Expenses (cont.)

16. In-process research and development:

One-time charges taken at the time of an acquisition

Can be problematic if companies write-off significant amounts of research and development in the year of acquisition in order to boost earnings in later years

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

operating expenses cont6
Operating Expenses (cont.)

17. Pension accounting-interest rate

assumptions:

A change in the pension interest rate assumption can impact earnings equality

  • if the rate is decreased, the annual pension cost and the present value of the benefits will increase
  • if the rate is increased, the annual pension cost and the present value of the benefits will decrease

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense

Potential areas include:

  • Gains (losses) from sales of assets
  • Interest income
  • Equity income
  • Income taxes
  • Unusual items
  • Discontinued operations
  • Accounting changes
  • Extraordinary items

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense cont
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense (cont.)

18. Gains (losses) from sales of assets:

The sale of a major asset is sometimes made to increase earnings and/or to generate needed cash when the firm is performing poorly. Such transactions are not part of the normal operations of the firm and should be excluded from net income when considering the future operating potential of the company

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense cont1
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense (cont.)

19. Interest income:

In assessing earnings quality, the analyst should be alert to the materiality and variability in the amount of interest income because it is not part of operating income

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense cont2
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense (cont.)

20. Equity income:

The net effect of using this method is that the investor, in most cases, records more income than is received in cash

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense cont3
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense (cont.)

22. Unusual items:

Analyst should always investigate these items by reading the notes and the MD&A to determine if these items are nonoperating and/or nonrecurring

Also called special charges

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense cont4
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense (cont.)

23. Discontinued operations:

Should be excluded in considering future earnings

Appropriate to deduct the income on discontinued operations each year from earnings for comparative purposes

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

nonoperating revenue and expense cont5
Nonoperating Revenue and Expense (cont.)

25. Extraordinary items:

Gains and losses that are both unusual and infrequent in nature

Amounts should be eliminated from earnings when evaluating a firm’s future earnings potential

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other issues
Other Issues

Potential areas include:

26. Material changes in number of shares

outstanding

  • Operating earnings, a.k.a. core earnings,

or EBITDA

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

other issues cont
Other Issues (cont.)

26. Material changes in number of shares outstanding:

  • Changes can result from treasury stock purchases and the purchase and retirement of a firm’s own common stock
  • Reasons for the repurchase of common stock should be determined if possible to see if firm is spending scarce resources to merely increase earnings per share (EPS)

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

other issues cont1
Other Issues (cont.)
  • Operating earnings, a.k.a. core earnings,
  • pro forma earnings, or EBITDA:

Operating earnings are important for assessing the ongoing potential of a firm

Variety of “company created” numbers have been created for users to review

Core earnings

OperatingEarningsBeforeInterest, Tax, DepreciationandAmortization(EBITDA)

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

what are the real earnings
What are the Real Earnings?

Each individual user of financial statements should adjust the earnings figure to reflect what they believe is relevant to the decision at hand

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quality of financial reporting the balance sheet
Quality of Financial Reporting-The Balance Sheet

Items discussed in the earnings quality section such as the value attached to accounts receivable, inventory and long-term assets also impact balance sheet quality

Other items to assess and evaluate include…..

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

quality of financial reporting the balance sheet cont
Quality of Financial Reporting-The Balance Sheet (cont.)
  • Type of debt used to finance assets should generally be matched (short-term debt for current assets and long-term debt/equity for long-term assets)
  • “Commitments and Contingencies” disclosures in the notes should be carefully evaluated as information on off-balance-sheet financing and other complex financing arrangements are located here

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

quality of financial reporting the statement of cash flows
Quality of Financial Reporting-The Statement of Cash Flows

The cash flows from operations (CFO) figure, while highly useful, can be manipulated by

  • Recording operating expenses as capital expenditures
  • Managing current asset and liability accounts to cause increases to CFO

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

quality of financial reporting the statement of cash flows cont
Quality of Financial Reporting-The Statement of Cash Flows (cont.)

Cash flows from the following types of items should be removed from CFO for analytical purposes:

  • Investments in trading securities
  • Discontinued operations
  • Nonrecurring expenses or income

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.

turkish companies public
Turkish Companies-Public

Manipulation-Earnings Overstatement 65%

Manipulation-Earnings Understatement 22%

Manipulation-Other 13%

(C) 2007 Prentice Hall, Inc.