Frode Contabile a Worldcom: hmmm...

Sarebbe come se il Corriere e le TV attaccassero Corrado Passera o Alessandro Profumo - gz  

  By: GZ on Martedì 27 Dicembre 2005 23:16

Vuoi sapere perchè Wall Street oggi ha perso un punto percentuale secco a dispetto di notizie positive negli ultimi giorni e del periodo natalizio ? E perchè le obbligazioni sono salite in linea retta ? (e perchè siamo andati al ribasso sugli indici americani oggi ?...) Barron's, il settimanale finanziario più importante in lingua inglese, ha messo in copertina un ^inchiesta durissima sui conti di General Electric#^, ^GE#^, la multinazionale con più fatturato e dipendenti d'America sotto il leggendario Jack Welch mostrando che ha per cinque anni inflazionato gli utili riducendo i contributi aziendali al fondo pensioni fino al punto che aveva un deficit teorico del 70%. L'ammontare sarebbe di NOVE MILIARDI DI DOLLARI. CNBC il canale finanziario di cui General Electric è padrona (Nota Bene....) ha intervistato ora l'autore dell'articolo che ha detto in sostanza che hanno truccato i conti sfruttando le ambiguità e complicazioni della contabilità delle assicurazioni e ha suggerito papale papale che ha truccato i conti in modo illegale Sarebbe come se il Corriere attaccasse Tronchetti o Corrado Passera di Banca Intesa o Cesare Geronzi di Banca di Roma/Capitalia in prima pagina suggerendo che hanno truccato i bilanci per un miliardo di euro. E Sarebbe come se l'autore dell'inchiesta comparisse sulla rete TV La7 di cui Telecom italia è proprietaria e sulle altre reti TV a ripetere che hanno probabilmente truccato i conti (sarebbe più probabile un invasione di cavallette della pianura padana) (per Passera ci sarebbe forse da fare qualche inchiesta sulla contabilità delle Poste "risanate" che ha usato come trampolino di lancio per arrivare a Banca Intesa, per Geronzi..... Tronchetti è solo un esempio) La questione contabile è un attimo complicata perchè riguarda il business finanziario di ^GE#^, è qui sotto per chi la vuole leggere, ma anche se non risulta che siano cose perseguibili è servito a riportare l'attenzione sulle manipolazioni della contabilità complicatissima nei business finanzari --------------- Jack's Magic -- Part II UNDER-RESERVING WAS INDEED an industry-wide phenomenon during this period. But the scale of ERC's deficiencies is epic. Was the unit blind-sided or was it straining to deliver the double-digit earnings growth Welch always expected? Was anything illegal done? That is unclear. At the end of 2001, ERC had net property and casualty reserves of $12.3 billion. The $9.4 billion in eventual additions means there should have been 76% more there when Welch handed Immelt the executive-washroom keys. Compare ERC's reserve deficiency with that of its larger competitor Gen Re, owned by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) since late 1998. Gen Re had its own underwriting woes in the late-'Nineties. It's taken a total reserve charge of $1.9 billion since 2001, principally linked to "the 1997 through 2000 accident years," Buffett ruefully noted in Berkshire Hathaway's 2004 annual report. Yet $1.9 billion is a mere 14% addition to the $13.6 billion in total net reserves that Gen Re carried in late 1998, the last reporting year before Gen Re was acquired by Berkshire. ERC has long been part of GE Capital, a financial unit whose businesses included everything from equipment leasing and insurance to consumer and commercial finance. Under Welch, GE Capital delivered double-digit earnings gains, year in and year out, regardless of what was going on in the financial markets. At its peak in the 'Nineties, the unit was generating about 45% of GE's earnings. To some observers, GE Capital was always something of a black box during its glory years. It sailed through the late 'Eighties-early 'Nineties' collapse in commercial real estate with nary a scratch, despite having to foreclose on a number of properties. The story was much the same for its onetime huge leveraged-buyout loan portfolio. The collapse of Montgomery Ward in 2000 caused not a hiccup in GE Capital's earnings, even though it had loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to the retailer. And GE Capital, a major aircraft lessor, has flown unscathed through the airline industry's crisis. Nonrecurring capital gains from GE Capital's insurance and equity portfolios always seemed to make up for any tough quarter. Analysts covering GE, mostly manufacturing geeks, didn't delve deeply into GE Capital, even though it was the top contributor to its parent's earnings, because it was outside their sphere of expertise. To his credit, Immelt appears to have somewhat reined in the free-wheeling culture at GE Capital, which he's restructuring. Since becoming GE's leader, he has been dumping GE Capital's insurance operations, including bond insurer FIGIC, its Japanese life insurer and a U.S. auto insurer, and is sharply reducing its interest in Genworth, a mortgage-guarantee and life-insurance outfit. After selling Insurance Solutions, GE will be all but out of the risky reinsurance game. Immelt also has improved transparency at GE Capital by breaking it into several separately reporting units. Immelt was dealt a weak hand when he took over. He had to contend with the global economic slump, heavy claims losses from 9/11, collapsing profitability in the plastics market, plummeting demand for power systems and a vicious aircraft-sale downcycle. Immelt has handled these problems while pouring cash into Insurance Solutions' reserves and restructuring GE Capital. Earnings in 2002, 2003 and 2004 rose only 2.9%, 7.1% and 6.6%, respectively -- numbers Welch would sneer at. Yet GE seems to be regaining its mojo. This year, it probably made $1.72 a share, 6.8% above 2004's figure. But Immelt has forecast 12%-17% 2006 earnings growth from continuing operations, which would produce earnings of $1.92 to $2.02 a share. (The Street's consensus estimate is $1.98.) The '06 figures exclude Genworth and Insurance Solutions, as discontinued operations. For Welch, the disclosure of the under-reserving is the latest blow in a retirement marked by a lucrative second career as a speaker, consultant and writer, along with some unflattering revelations. First, there was a nasty divorce from his second wife, Jane Welch, incensed by his affair with Suzy Wetlaufer, then the Harvard Business Review's editor and now Mrs. Welch No. 3. Divorce papers disclosed the gold-plated contract Welch got from GE in the mid-'Nineties, which granted him lifetime perks, including free use of an $80,000-a-month New York apartment and a corporate Boeing 737, reimbursement for restaurant meals, access to GE seats at sporting events, and payment for country-club and security fees. Welch quickly renounced the package, which seemed excessive for someone whose employment at GE already had vaulted him into Forbes' 2001 list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $680 million, in part helped by the sterling performance of GE stock in his last years at the helm (see chart). Welch is still a totemic figure in Corporate America. On Wall Street, he remains Jumpin' Jack Flash, as one analyst admiringly dubbed him, for his cheerleader verve, canny management insights and star power. But, like many stars, his celebrity seems to have depended as much on appearances as performance. Without the ERC smoke machine, GE's 1997-2001 numbers would have been far less lustrous. Still, he's likely to remain a legend, though now in more senses of that word than before.......

Frode Contabile A Worldcom: Hmmm... - polipolio  

  By: polipolio on Martedì 02 Luglio 2002 01:22

Mah, quello che cambia è l'OPERATING cash flow o cf from operations, che è quello che si usa per rimborsare o per fare investimenti. Premesso che non so un tubo di quanto succeso a Wcom e benché io sia convinto che i banchieri siano gonzi, ignoranti, superficiali e non capiscano un tubo di business, non posso credere che siano COSI' gonzi da non capire una roba scritta ed enuciata chiaramente. Semmai mi sembra più interessante l'ipotesi che il mgmt voglia beneficiare dalla accorta gestione di un chapter 11, ad es. _______________________________ GZ: Per quello che ricordo di contabilità americana (ma anche italiana) se uno contabilizza come ha fatto Sullivan come investimenti delle spese legate alla gestione a volte ci sono delle ragioni per farlo e finora nessuno ha spiegato esattamente perchè quelle di Worldcom erano fasulle. Inoltre tutti dicono che volevano alterare il flusso di cassa in questo modo e ingannare le banche.


  By: banshee on Venerdì 28 Giugno 2002 13:42

"nel conto economico ho un costo di depreciation pari a 20" E negli "statements of cash flow" avrai una voce positiva pari a 20 (per 5 anni) che rimpinguerà il cash flow operativo (quello più sexy agli occhi degli investitori, analisti e banchieri).


  By: everLoser on Venerdì 28 Giugno 2002 13:01

Confermo quello che dice Zibo, ovvero che il cash flow non cambia. Esempio. A: sostengo un costo pari a 100, e non lo capitalizzo. Cash out=100; nel conto economico ho un costo pari a 100 B: sostengo un costo pari a 100, e lo capitalizzo come bene con ammortamento a 5 anni. Cash out = 100; nel conto economico ho un costo di depreciation pari a 20. A mio parere, il metodo B lascia inalterati i cash flows. I vantaggi sono che aumenta gli asset e deprime i costi, milgiorando quindi l'utile. Saluti


  By: lutrom on Venerdì 28 Giugno 2002 12:02

Bello (e purtroppo spesso giusto) il "virgineo" paragone che fai a proposito delle banche.

Due Promesse Doverose - banshee  

  By: banshee on Venerdì 28 Giugno 2002 02:16

Faccio due premesse doverose, prima di dire la mia. 1) relativamente alla lettura dei bilanci sono un autodidatta, e quindi anche quel B- in accounting è al di fuori della mia portata. 2) non so nello specifico di che tipo siano quelle spese di cui si discute, e mi baso su quello che dice l'autore dell'articolo riportato da Zibordi. Ciò detto, se si trasformano spese correnti di gestione in "plants and properties" è indubbio, secondo me, che si ottenga un miglioramento del MOL. Miglioramento che si protrae inoltre negli anni, poichè le immobilizzazioni si ammortizzano pluriannualmente, e le "depreciations" sono voci che aumentano il cash flow operativo. In più, si rafforza lo stato patrimoniale, rimpinguando le immobilizzazioni materiali, e, almeno sulla carta, gli assets a garanzia. Detto questo, concordo col fatto che questo non ha nulla a che fare con l'indecenza perpetrata in Enron, e che vi sia isteria in giro riguardo queste cose. Le banche poi ........ mi rimembrano quelle vergini vestite di bianco, rotte di dietro e sane davanti.


  By: Sandro Cecconi on Venerdì 28 Giugno 2002 00:58

Ergo: tutti vergini! evviva

Frode Contabile a Worldcom: hmmm... - Gzibordi  

  By: GZ on Giovedì 27 Giugno 2002 23:33

forse il mercato ha rimbalzato dopo il "... 4 miliardi do dollari di frode contabile a Worldcom...!!" perchè qualcuno sta ripassando un po meglio il fatto contabile. Kedrovsky nota che c'è dell'isteria sulla facenda. Il direttore finanziario che avrebbe fatto la frode non ha guadagnato una lira da tutto questo perchè a differenza di Enron non ha mai venduto una sola azione di Worldcom e invece rischia di passare i prossimi anni nei tribunali. Inoltre tutto quello che ha fatto era scritto chiaramente nei documenti interni e lo potevano notare anche due anni fa. Può darsi invece che il nuovo management voglia prendere una mega ristrutturazione sperando di ripulire tutto tramite bancarotta. Oppure che tutti siano ora isterici. Per quello che ricordo di contabilità americana (ma anche italiana) se uno contabilizza come ha fatto Sullivan come investimenti delle spese legate alla gestione a volte ci sono delle ragioni per farlo e finora nessuno ha spiegato esattamente perchè quelle di Worldcom erano fasulle. Tutti hanno preso sulla parola la dichiarazione fatta dal nuovo management. Inoltre tutti dicono che volevano alterare il flusso di cassa in questo modo e ingannare le banche. Ma non è vero: se capitalizzi invece di addebbitare alla gestione corrente il flusso di cassa rimane lo stesso per quello che ricordo (è vero però che avevo un B o B- in accounting per cui se ho torto ditemelo). Per cui se le banche hanno prestato i soldi lo hanno fatto sapendo bene quello che facevano Insomma non è come Enron e ci sono sintomi di isteria --------------------------------------------------------By Paul Kedrosky 06/27/2002 12:48 PM EDT URL: Why didn't the market melt down after WorldCom's (WCOM:Nasdaq - news - commentary) accounting news? Partly because of the market's usual stubbornness -- it rarely does what everyone wants -- but mostly because it didn't need to. You wouldn't have known that, however, from much of the lazy and formulaic WorldCom analysis. It was mostly scathing stuff about corporate crime, CEO malfeasance and corruption at the top. It was truly piling on, with everyone from the financial press to President Bush to the tirelessly hyperbolic Bill O'Reilly all jumping on WorldCom. (Am I the only one who thinks O'Reilly increasingly seems like a noisy gene-splice of Art Laffer and Dr. Laura?) That bastion of financial journalism, USA Today, even tipped that CEOs cheat at golf -- complete with a spiffy graphic, of course. It was a forced march of the usual cliches -- the "whiz-kid CFO," the "fraud on a massive scale," etc. -- and it had the usual effect: dismay and dread. Wednesday morning felt ominous and doom-bound before the market opened, like the minutes before a summer thunderstorm, and the ugly opening did little to assuage this feeling -- at first. Initial Dread Truth be told, like most people who saw the WorldCom news Tuesday night, I felt initially as if someone had dropped a lead pinata on my head. Whoa, I thought, there's going to be trouble Wednesday, perhaps hundreds of points on the Dow, a real rethinking of what equities are worth. This is much broader than a telecom phenomenon. Related Stories WorldCom Tilts Toward Abyss Seymour: Where Will the WorldCom Damage End? Cramer: WorldCom Bondholders Are Sunk Too Greenberg: WorldCom Won't Be the Final Scandal Task: For Markets, Bad News Getting Worse Willard: WorldCom: Don't Call It a Crisis, Just a Collapse WorldCom's Watchdogs Were Asleep WorldCom Fraud Centered on Connection Costs EBITDA: Anatomy of an Accounting Gimmick Then Wednesday morning, after more time looking at the allegations, I changed my mind. Why? Because this just isn't fraud a la Enron, or Adelphia for that matter. While it seems clear that WorldCom did some tricksy things it probably shouldn't have, so far the allegations of outright accounting fraud seem ... well, kinda fraudulent. Some brief background: According to sketchy data from the company and the Securities and Exchange Commission, WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan supposedly capitalized $3.85 billion in line-operating expenses over the last two years. In other words, the company was taking things that should have shown up as expenses on the income statement and turning them into plant and property on the balance sheet. The effect of this sleight of hand, of course, is to reduce accounting expenses, thereby increasing accounting earnings. That might sound bad, but there are circumstances under which capitalizing operating expenses would be perfectly fine. Sure, some things should never be capitalized, but some things always should -- and there's a gray zone in the middle the size of the Texas Panhandle. Keep in mind that capitalizing expenses is far from unusual: Telecom companies can (and do) capitalize some costs, such as installation and labor, for example. Trouble is, we don't know what WorldCom expensed and why expensing it was wrong. Instead, we have to take WorldCom's and the SEC's word for it. And there are plenty of reasons to think both would exaggerate: WorldCom because it's paranoid and looking to do a big writedown in the current post-Enron fraud frenzy, the SEC because it has become positively school-marmish in patrolling its turf. You Call This Serious Fraud? The rest of us have to go on a few anecdotes floating around saying that WorldCom had been capitalizing routine network maintenance. And that Sullivan never attempted to cover up his actions: His expense capitalization policies were apparently right there in internal company documents. Hardly the sort of the thing you'd expect in a conscious fraud. And hardly the size of a fraud you would expect. Sullivan didn't benefit from his actions -- he hasn't sold stock in two years -- and WorldCom runs more than twice as many expense dollars through its income statement in any given quarter as it is writing off. At the same time, unlike the Enron fraud, WorldCom's gambit was externally transparent. Sure, the company's accounting earnings are bent, but whose aren't subjective? More important, WorldCom's cash-flow statement will be unaltered. But the fraud-spotters missed that. They keep saying that WorldCom did what it did to trick up its cash flow, to try to get debt providers and bankers off its back by goosing accounting earnings. Really? Then CFO Sullivan isn't much of a whiz kid. No banker in North America is going to base a decision purely on accounting earnings. Debt service is all about free cash flow. And capitalizing line expenses, while aggressive accounting, wouldn't mask WorldCom's deteriorating financial position. Some fraud. I'll finish by de-fanging a couple of obvious criticisms. First, I do take accounting fraud seriously. Very seriously. The markets are only as good as the numbers they discount. There are few things you could tell me, a former analyst, that would cause me more dismay than saying a company's audited financials were suspect. Second, some argue that investors had already discounted the news. To that I say, no way. No one saw this specific news coming. Anyone who claims to is lying. This was not Enronian malfeasance that could be uncovered by spending a few late nights over Edgar filings. From what we know, this was an entirely different type of fraud. That's what makes the market's reaction spot on. Lost in all the husky exhortations to the SEC, in all the hundreds of stories that have already appeared, is this: WorldCom's alleged fraud, while dumb, isn't all that smelly. Does any of this mean that WorldCom is any less doomed? No. Does it mean that equipment providers aren't going to see another leg down? No. But the market had a darn good inkling of WorldCom's status as a defunct business model long before this supposed fraud popped up. All this news has done is give ever-nervous bankers and capital providers an excuse to kick a little more dirt on WorldCom's already-deep grave.