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Report: A Quarter of Earnings Filings Aren't GAAP Compliant

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Dec 16, 2015
'MIND THE GAP 5023794412' by http://www.cgpgrey.com. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia CommonsResearch from Deutsche Bank shows a dramatic increase in companies ditching GAAP measurements to report their earnings, a trend that has led to what the Wall Street Journal says is a much rosier picture than would be painted using more traditional metrics. 

Instead, said the Journal, more and more companies are opting to instead use adjusted figures, like adjusted net income, adjusted sales, and adjusted Ebitda (adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). That least one has skyrocketed in use over the past ten years, with the Journal reporting that now 1 in 10 filers use it, versus 1 in 40 a decade ago. Overall, a quarter of earnings filings this year use non-GAAP measurements. 

Using these non-GAAP figures, the Journal said, earnings per share fell only .1 percent in the third quarter. If these same companies had used GAAP-compliant figures, that drop grows to 13 percent. 

Companies using these non-GAAP measures aren't obscure entities that only financial insiders would know about but well-known brands like Wendy's, Dow Chemical, AT&T and Post. Companies reached out to by the Journal defended the practice, saying they felt investors felt the non-GAAP metrics gave a better impression of their business, and investors found them useful.