Sunday, March 6, 2011

Honesty for Banks Is Still Such a Lonely Word

Good Read via Jonathan Weil @ Bloomberg (H/T Going Concern). 

Interesting Excerpts: 

Last August an electronics manufacturer named Molex Inc. (MOLX) did something remarkable, at least by today’s standards for disclosing bad news. It filed a special report with the Securities and Exchange Commission known as an 8-K, saying it had overstated its shareholder equity by $101 million and that investors shouldn’t rely on its financial statements for the previous three years.
What made this event so unusual is it was the only negative restatement disclosed in this manner last year by a company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. That’s according to Audit Analytics, a Sutton, Massachusetts, research firm that tracks such data. Molex, based in Lisle, Illinois, included its corrected results in its fiscal 2010 annual report the same day.
“It’s one or the other,” says Don Whalen, research director at Audit Analytics. “Either companies’ internal controls have improved dramatically, so they’re not making mistakes. Or it’s too good to be true, and the information is not getting out.”
The figures for banks, in particular, look unnaturally low. Forty-four banks restated last year, one fewer than in 2009. Even more curious, there were 133 banks that issued corrections from 2008 through 2010. That was down from 169 banks during the previous three-year period, before the financial crisis took off in earnest, which makes no sense.
About 53 percent of all restatements by U.S. companies in 2010 were handled this way, on the grounds that the errors supposedly weren’t big enough to warrant more prominent disclosures. Sometimes called “stealth restatements,” the corrections instead got tucked elsewhere, such as footnotes in press releases or companies’ quarterly and annual reports.
Click Here to Read: Honesty for Banks Is Still Such a Lonely Word

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