Volume 10, Nos. 14 & 15

 

Accounting Issues Review & Preview:  Maybe history can be the best teacher. Contrary to popular belief, the FASB doesn't just sit around looking for things to do. Its projects are usually rooted in some flaw in financial reporting that is denying investors adequate information for making their decisions. So, if you're a reasonably curious analyst or investor, you should be interested in just what areas financial reporting has been ineffective - and what might be done about it. Learn from the history of current Board projects: it's simple self-interest and self-preservation. Consider this report a brief history lesson in FASB's current projects. There's other history in here, too. A recap of the accounting news of the past year might sound like a real sleeping pill - but the lessons served up by the recap might surprise even the most disdainful of analysts who resist learning about accounting issues. Maybe history could help analysts assess the effects of goodwill balances no longer being amortized, beginning in 2002. The problem with looking at history for help is that there's so little of it available in financial statements - and analysts must rely on fresh management disclosures to keep their estimates realistic. This report contains an appraisal of such disclosures for the S&P 100 companies - and so far, there's a lot more disclosing that companies need to do if they want to keep all members of the analyst flock moving in the same direction.

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