Volume 8, Nos. 15 & 16

 

1999: Accounting Issues Review & Preview. The SEC Codifies Common Sense:  1999 was a year of anomalies for students of earnings and accounting (a.k.a. investors). The economic backdrop continued to be hospitable for companies of all stripes, yet there were spectacular disasters where companies pushed the envelope of acceptable financial reporting - and tore it. Rite Aid, Waste Management, and McKesson HBOC took top honors for most illustrious scandals of the year. Meanwhile, companies with honestly reported earnings growing at double-digit rates were spurned by the market in favor of firms that had no earnings - and whose only assets consist of plans to conquer the world and extract dimes from every member of the human race. Go figure. Get past the scandal headlines. Remind yourself that it's the accounting rules of the road that determine how financial reporting gets done right and delivered to the hands and minds of investors and analysts. There will always be those financial reporting drivers who practice the accounting equivalent of reckless driving - and they will have to deal with the consequences of their actions with a tumbling stock price and court actions. Ignore the bad drivers, and keep your mind on the rules of the road. Remember that most accounting standards originate because of some flaw in existing reporting. Pure selfish motivation and an inquiring mind ought to be enough to make an analyst or investor care about the issues underlying these and all other new standards. Satisfy your inquiring mind with this recap of the major FASB and SEC pronouncements - and then recall some of the more notable accounting events of the year.

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