Rachel Bradley  by Rachel Annis
  Equity Analyst, Gradient Analytics LLC (a Sabrient Systems company)

A common misconception is that accounting figures are always black and white, i.e., well known and precise. But in practice, there are many ways that the estimates and subjective judgement of management can color financial statements. Recent amendments to accounting standards address specific examples when companies have applied prior accounting guidelines differently from their peers. When this occurs, analysts are unable to compare accounting figures across companies without additional analysis. Further, differing accounting methodologies coupled with opaque disclosures may prevent analysts from ascertaining an accurate apples-to-apples comparison.

Here at Gradient Analytics, we specialize in forensic accounting research and consulting, and our analysts stay current on changes in the regulatory landscape, including crucial updates to disclosure requirements. Normally, we focus research on areas in which companies might be tempted to “manage” or overstate earnings, either by pulling forward future revenues or pushing out current expenses. Layer on more complexity from changing reporting requirements and it becomes clearer how a vital piece to the puzzle might slip through the cracks.

In this article, I provide details on updates to four accounting standards – and how they may shape financial statements with the potential to mislead investors. First, several Interbank Offered Rates (IBORs) ceased to exist at the end of 2021, and countries are transitioning to alternative reference rates. Second, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) revised guidance such that companies no longer may deduct certain items from the cost of property, plant, and equipment (PPE). Third, the IASB now requires that a proportion of production overhead must be included when reporting so-called “onerous contracts.” And fourth, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a proposal to eliminate accounting for loans in modification through troubled debt restructurings.  Read on....