September 15, 2019

Accounting errors

New Year’s Eve Was Kind of a Bummer for Hertz

Man, I hope executives at Hertz got shitfaced on New Year’s Eve, because being told the company has to pay a $16 million civil penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a case involving numerous accounting violations is not a stellar way to end 2018/begin 2019. An SEC cease-and-desist order filed on Dec. […]

Hertz’s Accounting Errors Get Worse, Could Get Worser

Crappy car rental company Hertz's accounting problems are worse than they thought. The total errors found are up to $183 million, an additional $30 million more than previously reported. On top of that, the company says it's, "still reviewing the figures," that more changes are NOT out of the question, and those "changes may be significant." […]

Fannie Mae Confident That a $4 Billion Accounting Error Is Totally Not Material, Guys

The Street had an interesting piece about Fannie Mae's most recent "out-of-period adjustments," which is Fannie's casual way of explaining away a $4 billion error over five consecutive quarters from Q4 2011 through Q4 2012, as well as Q2 2010. While Fannie Mae did disclose the errors, one reason they did not attract more scrutiny […]

City of Los Angeles Blames Technology, Retired Auditors for Missing $43 Million

Officials in cash-strapped Los Angeles have uncovered almost $43 million that was just sitting in a Department of Transportation account unbeknownst to the city, prompting them to wonder if there's more magic money stashed away: The discovery of $42.6 million will be a welcome one-time infusion into next year's budget, officials said, but has left […]

Auditors Not Being Credited with “Better Letter Than Never” in Discovery of Pennsylvania School District’s $15 Million Error

In yesterday's Footnotes, we mentioned that the Reading, Pennsylvania School District sorta overstated the amount of a subsidy that it received from the Keystone State. An unfortunate error that will likely result in cutbacks for another struggling school district.  Because the children are being wronged here, there is plenty of outrage and blamestorming going around. […]

Nobody Seems to Care About Williams Companies’ $497 Million Accounting Error

Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil likes digging through dirty laundry. If you're an auditor, the PCAOB, a TBTF bank or in today's case, a natural gas producer, playing games that just so happen to cross his radar and it insults his intelligence, you can expect JW to open up your ringer of dirty undies for all of […]

WFT Principal Accounting Officer Leaving Company After $500 Million WTF

Sorry that we’re a little tardy on this news but you just knew someone was going down for this.

Apparently the mortification suffered by Weatherford International CFO Andrew Becnel was enough for him to keep his job. Principal Accounting Officer Charles Geer, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky:

The Geneva-based company also disclosed the departure of Principal Accounting Officer Charles E. Geer, whose resignation comes two weeks after Weatherford disclosed tax-accounting errors that forced it to revise previous results by $500 million.

Weatherford said in a securities filings that Mr. Geer, whose resignation is effective Friday, is leaving to “pursue another career opportunity.”

It’s awfully nice of the company to keep things so professional after the material weaknesses under Geer’s watch will result in restatements for three years of filings.

Weatherford Cuts Earnings View; Top Accountant Exits [WSJ]

O Bank Restatements, Where Art Thou?

Because Jonathan Weil is wondering.

He noticed that Audit Analytics found that 699 SEC-registered companies filed restatements last year which was slightly higher than ’09. This was considerably less than the 1,566 restatements in ’06 but when it came to the number of banks that had restatements, he noticed something strange:

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.

Here we had the greatest banking industry meltdown since the Great Depression. Hundreds of lenders failed. And yet the number of banks correcting accounting errors declined while the collapse was unfolding. There were no restatements by the likes of IndyMac, Washington Mutual or Lehman Brothers, for example. The obvious conclusion is the government has been giving lots of banks a free pass, as have their auditors.

Honesty for Banks Is Still Such a Lonely Word [Bloomberg]

Weatherford CFO Not Taking $500 Million Accounting Error Well; CEO Slightly More Upbeat

WTF WFT CFO Andrew Becnel needs a hug:

Weatherford International Ltd. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Becnel called a $500 million accounting error disclosed by the oilfield-service company late Tuesday an “embarrassment,” the damage of which is “impossible to quantify.”

But you know who’s taking this whole snafu in stride? CEO Bernard Duroc-Danner that’s who! BDD told investors on a conference call today that nothing is fucked and that this will all be yesterday’s news in no time:

Chief Executive Bernard Duroc-Danner said there is no risk of a U.S. government investigation or of any tax penalties or fines related to what he characterized as a mistake in calculating the tax rates on dividends moved from one subsidiary to another.

Geez. Give the SEC some credit wouldja? Just because they missed a few things here and there doesn’t mean they won’t ask any questions about your material weaknesses.

Weatherford Finance Chief Calls Accounting Error an ‘Embarrassment’ [WSJ]

WFT’s Material Weaknesses Led to Giant Tax WTF

It’s bad enough that 3% of Weatherford International’s revenues come from Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain but the company also revealed in a their NT 10-K filed yesterday that they aren’t so good at staying top of their taxes:

The Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K (the “Form 10-K”) for the year ended December 31, 2010 cannot be filed within the prescribed time period because the Company has identified a material weakness in internal controls over financial reporting for income taxes and requires additional time to perform additional testing on, and reconciliation, of the tax accounts to be included in the annual financial statements to be presented in the Form 10-K. The Company expects to file the Form 10-K on or before the 15th calendar day following the prescribed due date.


FuelFix has the gory details:

Oil field services firm Weatherford International goes by the stock ticker is WFT, but analyst reaction to the company reporting more than $500 million in tax errors is more likely drawing the reaction of “WTF?” from investors.

The company said it will have to restate its earnings going back to 2007 due to “material weaknesses” in its internal controls, namely:

1. inadequate staffing and technical expertise within the company related to taxes,
2. ineffective review and approval practices relating to taxes,
3. inadequate processes to effectively reconcile income tax accounts and
4. inadequate controls over the preparation of quarterly tax provisions.

So in other words, Weatherford has no tax experts in their accounting department, no one to supervise or review the work of those experts and no checks or balances over the tax provision process as a whole. Was the Ernst & Young audit team aware of this? Last year’s 10-K had a clean opinion, in case you were wondering. Oh, and Weatherford moved its HQ to Switzerland back in ’08. So there’s that.

Oops: Weatherford reports $500M tax error [FuelFix]

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters: Gosh, We Ended Up Having Way More Accounting Errors Than We Thought

Back in September, Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters put the world on notice that the SEC was asking some questions about their revenue recognitions policies. Despite the SEC Q&A, analysts we’re cool with the company and the GAAP the crunchy accounting group was putting out.

Also at that time, the company disclosed that there were some immaterial accounting errors that were NBD. That was until they dropped a little 8-K on everyone last Friday!


Turns out, there was a whole mess of accounting booboos and the company will be restating “previously issued financial statements, including the quarterly data for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 and its selected financial data for the relevant periods.”

From the aforementioned 8-K with all the bad news:

The Company has discovered the following errors:

• A $7.6 million overstatement of pre-tax income, cumulative over the restated periods, due to the K-Cup inventory adjustment error previously reported in the Company’s Form 8-K filed on September 28, 2010. This error is the result of applying an incorrect standard cost to intercompany K-Cup inventory balances in consolidation. This error resulted in an overstatement of the consolidated inventory and an understatement of the cost of sales. Rather than correcting the cumulative amount of the error in the quarter ended September 25, 2010, as disclosed in the September 28, 2010 Form 8-K, the effect of this error will be recorded in the applicable restated periods.

• A $1.4 million overstatement of pre-tax income, cumulative over the restated periods, due to the under-accrual of certain marketing and customer incentive program expenses. The Company also has corrected the classification of certain of these amounts as reductions to net sales instead of selling and operating expenses. These programs include, but are not limited to, brewer mark-down support and funds for promotional and marketing activities. Management has determined that miscommunication between the sales and accounting departments resulted in expenses for certain of these programs being recorded in the wrong fiscal periods.

• A $1.0 million overstatement of pre-tax income, cumulative over the restated periods, due to changes in the timing and classification of the Company’s historical revenue recognition of royalties from third party licensed roasters. Because royalties were recognized upon shipment of K-Cups by roasters pursuant to the terms and conditions of the licensing agreements with these roasters, Keurig historically recognized these royalties at the time Keurig purchased the K-Cups from the licensed roasters and classified this royalty in net sales. Management has determined to recognize this royalty as a reduction to the carrying cost of the related inventory. The gross margin benefit of the royalty will then be realized upon the ultimate sale of the product to a third party customer. Due to the Company’s completed and, when consummated, pending acquisitions of third party licensed roasters, these purchases and the associated royalties have become less of a factor, since the post-acquisition royalties from these wholly-owned roasters are not included in the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

• An $800,000 overstatement of pre-tax income, cumulative over the restated periods, due to applying an incorrect standard cost to intercompany brewer inventory balances in consolidation. This error was identified during the preparation of the fiscal year 2010 financial statements and resulted in an overstatement of the consolidated inventory and an understatement of the cost of sales.

• A $700,000 understatement of pre-tax income for the Specialty Coffee business unit, due primarily to a failure to reverse an accrual related to certain customer incentive programs in the second fiscal quarter of 2010. The over-accrual was not identified and corrected until the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010.

• In addition to the errors described above, the Company also will include in the restated financial statements certain other immaterial errors, including previously unrecorded immaterial adjustments identified in audits of prior years’ financial statements.

So naturally you shouldn’t rely on anything out there. Despite the discovery and disclosure of this massive fuckup and warnings from Sam Antar including some possible insider trading (it’s a theme today) and disclosure violations, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch thought it would be rad to upgrade the stock which has sent the price soaring. Why not, right?

In directly related news, anyone on the PwC audit team shouldn’t make any Thanksgiving plans.

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Cut Political Football Goes Flat; Google’s Remarkable Tax Planning; Yes, IRS Agents Are Strapped | 10.21.10

Tax Cuts Slide To Back Burner On Campaign Trail [WSJ]
It’s a sign that a decision by Democratic leaders, to put off a vote on extending the tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 elections, may be paying off politically.

“It’s harder to write an ad portraying a vote that hasn’t happened yet,” said Brian Gaston, a former senior aide to House GOP leaders and now a lobbyist at the Glover Park Group.

Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes [Bloomberg]
Google y $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.

Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” — helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.

TUI Travel CFO Quits After Accounting Error [Dow Jones]
In an embarrassing admission, the company said an ongoing audit for the fiscal year ended September 2010 had highlighted the accounting error in the integration of IT systems in its U.K. mainstream business that had accrued over a period of four to five years and which increased its total write-off for 2009 from GBP29 million to GBP117 million.

Chief Executive Peter Long told Dow Jones Newswires that the issue had been identified when it reported its third-quarter results but continued to investigate the matter and “only last night were we able to determine the scale of the problem.”

Banks Clueless on Foreclosure Mess Severity [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
The biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and servicers say they’re putting the foreclosure mess behind them, and that it never was a major problem. The reality is these companies are so big and unmanageable, the people in charge of running them have no way to know if that is true.

One thing that remains unknowable is how many flawed home- mortgage records and foreclosure proceedings are out there waiting to be unearthed. Dozens of federal and state agencies are investigating. It’s anyone’s guess what they might turn up.


NJ man cashes $158G check IRS mistakenly sent him [Asbury Park Press]
He figured no one would notice.

For ‘B-to-B’ Companies, Finding Facebook ‘Friends’ Can Be a Struggle [WSJ]
These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.

Some IRS agents carry guns, too, agents tell UAB accounting student group [Birmingham News]
“My first day on the job, I thought, ‘Why are they carrying guns?'” said Donald Smith, a UAB graduate and special agent with the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit.

Korea wants G20 to delay accounting standard consolidation [Korea Times]
Apparently they have a say in the matter