Volume 7, No. 13

 

The SEC States Its Case:  It's been a banner year for accounting mischief. Cendant and Sunbeam burned the importance of credible accountants deep into the consciousness of investors and analysts, but there have been a raft of other accounting-driven stories in 1998. "In-process research & development charges" (IPR&D charges, for short) became part of the investment vernacular as those particular corporate events became as common as flies in a barnyard. Later in the year, numerous companies using this contrivance found themselves being forced by the SEC to restate their charge-related acquisition accounting. Restructuring charges - and reversals of restructuring charges - were also the order of the day in 1998. In September, SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt delivered a speech at New York University. The topic: earnings management and the SEC's plan to combat it. Late each year, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants - the professional organization that sets the auditing standards for the nation's CPAs - issues its series of "Audit Risk t hurt analysts to recognize that these are "hot spots" right now - and ponder how companies they cover may be addressing these accounting issues when they are relevant.

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