Pondering Pensions: How They Affected 2000 Earnings: There is probably no part of a company that is more ignored by analysts and investors than its pension plan - yet none that can have as profound an effect on operations. In recent years, the bull market has caused pension plans to become quite "over-funded" - that is, the plan assets exceed the plan obligations. That's certainly a plus for the pensioners, but that happy situation creates quirky side-effects in the income statement - side-effects that muck up the income statement's message. There's a certain amount of analytical folklore built up around pension issues - some of it legitimate, some of it a bit paranoid. The following survey of the S&P 100 sheds some light on some of the questions and myths surrounding the effects of pension plans on recent earnings.