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US GAO report examines 919 restatements of financial statements

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25 Oct 2002

The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) has published a 262-page report on Financial Statement Restatements, Trends, Market Impacts, Regulatory Responses, and Remaining Challenges.

The eight-month study identified 885 companies (including 689 publicly traded companies) who made a total of 919 restatements during the 5½ years ending in June 2002. The principal finding is that, while the number of restating companies continues to make up a small percentage of all publicly listed companies annually, the number of restatements due to accounting irregularities grew significantly during the 5½ years studied. "The proportion of listed companies on NYSE, Amex, and Nasdaq identified as restating their financial reports tripled from less than 0.89 percent in 1997 to about 2.5 percent in 2001 and may reach almost 3 percent by the end of 2002. From January 1997 through June 2002, about 10 percent of all listed companies announced at least one restatement." Share prices of restating companies dropped by an average of 10% within one day after the restatement was announced. Issues involving revenue recognition (misreported or nonreported revenue) accounted for almost 38% of the 919 announced restatements. Issues relating to improper recognition or capitalisation of costs and expenses accounted for another 16% of the restatements. Click to from IASPlus (PDF 5,270k) -- it will take 30-60 minutes if you are using a modem rather than a broadband Internet connection. If you can handle ZIP files, click here for a (ZIP 3,008k).

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