Definition of Accounting earnings
earnings of a firm as reported on its income statement.
accounting earnings that are retained by the firm for reinvestment in its operations;
earnings that are not paid out as dividends.
The use of various forms of gimmickry to distort a company's true financial performance in order to achieve a desired result.
A characterization used by the Securities and Exchange
Commission to designate earnings management that results in an intentional and material misrepresentation
A collection of systems and processes used to record, report and interpret business transactions.
A broad, all-inclusive term that refers to the methods and procedures
of financial record keeping by a business (or any entity); it also
refers to the main functions and purposes of record keeping, which are
to assist in the operations of the entity, to provide necessary information
to managers for making decisions and exercising control, to measure
profit, to comply with income and other tax laws, and to prepare financial
Administrative proceedings or litigation releases that entail an accounting or auditing-related violation of the securities laws.
An alteration in the accounting methodology or estimates used in
the reporting of financial statements, usually requiring discussion in a footnote
attached to the financial statements.
A business for which a separate set of accounting records is being
The representation of the double-entry system of accounting such that assets are equal to liabilities plus capital.
The formula Assets = Liabilities + Equity.
An equation that reflects the two-sided nature of a
business entity, assets on the one side and the sources of assets on the
other side (assets = liabilities + owners’ equity). The assets of a business
entity are subject to two types of claims that arise from its two basic
sources of capital—liabilities and owners’ equity. The accounting equation
is the foundation for double-entry bookkeeping, which uses a
scheme for recording changes in these basic types of accounts as either
debits or credits such that the total of accounts with debit balances
equals the total of accounts with credit balances. The accounting equation
also serves as the framework for the statement of financial condition,
or balance sheet, which is one of the three fundamental financial
statements reported by a business.
Unintentional mistakes in financial statements. Accounted for by restating
the prior-year financial statements that are in error.
The change in the value of a firm's foreign currency denominated accounts due to a
change in exchange rates.
Total liabilities exceed total assets. A firm with a negative net worth is insolvent on
Intentional misstatements or omissions of amounts or disclosures in
financial statements done to deceive financial statement users. The term is used interchangeably with fraudulent financial reporting.
The ease and quickness with which assets can be converted to cash.
The period of time for which financial statements are produced – see also financial year.
The principles, bases, conventions, rules and procedures adopted by management in preparing and presenting financial statements.
Accounting rate of return (ARR)
A method of investment appraisal that measures
the profit generated as a percentage of the
investment – see return on investment.
accounting rate of return (ARR)
the rate of earnings obtained on the average capital investment over the life of a capital project; computed as average annual profits divided by average investment; not based on cash flow
A set of accounts that summarize the transactions of a business that have been recorded on source documents.
The recording of revenue when earned and expenses when
incurred, irrespective of the dates on which the associated cash flows occur.
Well, frankly, accrual is not a good descriptive
term. Perhaps the best way to begin is to mention that accrual-basis
accounting is much more than cash-basis accounting. Recording only the
cash receipts and cash disbursement of a business would be grossly
inadequate. A business has many assets other than cash, as well as
many liabilities, that must be recorded. Measuring profit for a period as
the difference between cash inflows from sales and cash outflows for
expenses would be wrong, and in fact is not allowed for most businesses
by the income tax law. For management, income tax, and financial
reporting purposes, a business needs a comprehensive record-keeping
system—one that recognizes, records, and reports all the assets and liabilities
of a business. This all-inclusive scope of financial record keeping
is referred to as accrual-basis accounting. Accrual-basis accounting
records sales revenue when sales are made (though cash is received
before or after the sales) and records expenses when costs are incurred
(though cash is paid before or after expenses are recorded). Established
financial reporting standards require that profit for a period
must be recorded using accrual-basis accounting methods. Also, these
authoritative standards require that in reporting its financial condition a
business must use accrual-basis accounting.
A method of accounting in which profit is calculated as the difference between income when it is earned and expenses when they are incurred.
Net income adjusted to exclude selected nonrecurring and noncash items of reserve, gain, expense, and loss.
A forceful and intentional choice and application of accounting principles
done in an effort to achieve desired results, typically higher current earnings, whether the practices followed are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles or not. Aggressive
accounting practices are not alleged to be fraudulent until an administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding takes that step and alleges, in particular, that an intentional, material misstatement
has taken place in an effort to deceive financial statement readers.
Average accounting return
The average project earnings after taxes and depreciation divided by the average
book value of the investment during its life.
basic earnings per share (EPS)
This important ratio equals the net
income for a period (usually one year) divided by the number capital
stock shares issued by a business corporation. This ratio is so important
for publicly owned business corporations that it is included in the daily
stock trading tables published by the Wall Street Journal, the New York
Times, and other major newspapers. Despite being a rather straightforward
concept, there are several technical problems in calculating
earnings per share. Actually, two EPS ratios are needed for many businesses—
basic EPS, which uses the actual number of capital shares outstanding,
and diluted EPS, which takes into account additional shares of
stock that may be issued for stock options granted by a business and
other stock shares that a business is obligated to issue in the future.
Also, many businesses report not one but two net income figures—one
before extraordinary gains and losses were recorded in the period and a
second after deducting these nonrecurring gains and losses. Many business
corporations issue more than one class of capital stock, which
makes the calculation of their earnings per share even more complicated.
Basic Earnings Power Ratio
Percentage of earnings relative to total assets; indication of how
effectively assets are used to generate earnings. It is calculated by
dividing earnings before interest and taxes by the book value of all
A method of accounting in which profit is calculated as the difference between income
when it is received and expenses when they are paid.
Change in Accounting Estimate
A change in accounting that occurs as the result of new information
or as additional experience is acquired—for example, a change in the residual values
or useful lives of fixed assets. A change in accounting estimate is accounted for prospectively,
over the current and future accounting periods affected by the change.
Change in Accounting Estimate
A change in the implementation of an existing accounting
policy. A common example would be extending the useful life or changing the expected residual
value of a fixed asset. Another would be making any necessary adjustments to allowances for
uncollectible accounts, warranty obligations, and reserves for inventory obsolescense.
Change in Accounting Principle
A change from one generally accepted accounting principle to another generally accepted accounting principle—for example, a change from capitalizing expenditures
to expensing them. A change in accounting principle is accounted for in most instances
as a cumulative-effect–type adjustment.
Constant dollar accounting
A method for restating financial statements by reducing or
increasing reported revenues and expenses by changes in the consumer price index,
thereby achieving greater comparability between accounting periods.
Method of accounting for sales or service agreements where completion
requires an extended period.
A measure of earnings that includes only the results of the primary operating
activities of the firm. It is most common to see the measure used by financial firms.
a discipline that focuses on techniques or
methods for determining the cost of a project, process, or
thing through direct measurement, arbitrary assignment, or
systematic and rational allocation
Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB)
a body established by Congress in 1970 to promulgate cost accounting
standards for defense contractors and federal agencies; disbanded
in 1980 and reestablished in 1988; it previously issued
pronouncements still carry the weight of law for those
organizations within its jurisdiction
Cost Plus Estimated Earnings in Excess of Billings
Revenue recognized to date under the percentage-of-completion method in excess of amounts billed. Also known as unbilled accounts
Creative Accounting Practices
Any and all steps used to play the financial numbers game, including
the aggressive choice and application of accounting principles, both within and beyond
the boundaries of generally accepted accounting principles, and fraudulent financial reporting.
Also included are steps taken toward earnings management and income smoothing. See Financial
Creative Acquisition Accounting
The allocation to expense of a greater portion of the price
paid for another company in an acquisition in an effort to reduce acquisition-year earnings and
boost future-year earnings. Acquisition-year expense charges include purchased in-process research
and development and an overly aggressive accrual of costs required to effect the acquisition.
Cumulative Effect of a Change in Accounting Principle
The change in earnings of previous years
based on the assumption that a newly adopted accounting principle had previously been in use.
Cumulative Effect of Accounting Change
The change in earnings of previous years assuming
that the newly adopted accounting principle had previously been in use.
diluted earnings per share (EPS)
This measure of earnings per share
recognizes additional stock shares that may be issued in the future for
stock options and as may be required by other contracts a business has
entered into, such as convertible features in its debt securities and preferred
stock. Both basic earnings per share and, if applicable, diluted
earnings per share are reported by publicly owned business corporations.
Often the two EPS figures are not far apart, but in some cases the
gap is significant. Privately owned businesses do not have to report earnings
per share. See also basic earnings per share.
See accrual-basis accounting.
Net income for the company during the period.
In general, refers to a company's total sales less cost of sales and operating expenses, including interest and income tax.
earnings before interest and income tax (EBIT)
A measure of profit that
equals sales revenue for the period minus cost-of-goods-sold expense
and all operating expenses—but before deducting interest and income
tax expenses. It is a measure of the operating profit of a business before
considering the cost of its debt capital and income tax.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT)
A financial measure defined as revenues less cost of goods sold
and selling, general, and administrative expenses. In other words, operating and non-operating profit before
the deduction of interest and income taxes.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT)
The operating profit before deducting interest and tax.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA)
The operating profit before deducting interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA)
An earningsbased measure that, for many, serves as a surrogate for cash flow. Actually consists of working
capital provided by operations before interest and taxes.
The active manipulation of earnings toward a predetermined target.
That target may be one set by management, a forecast made by analysts, or an amount that is consistent
with a smoother, more sustainable earnings stream. Often, although not always, earnings
management entails taking steps to reduce and “store” profits during good years for use during
slower years. This more limited form of earnings management is known as income smoothing.
Earnings per Share
A measure of the earnings generated by a company on a per
share basis. It is calculated by dividing income available for
distribution to shareholders by the number of common shares
Earnings per share (EPS)
EPS, as it is called, is a company's profit divided by its number of outstanding
shares. If a company earned $2 million in one year had 2 million shares of stock outstanding, its EPS would
be $1 per share. The company often uses a weighted average of shares outstanding over the reporting term.
earnings per share (EPS)
See basic earnings per share and diluted earnings per share.
Earnings per share of common stock
How much profit a company made on each share of common stock this year.
Earnings retention ratio
Positive or negative differences from the consensus forecast of earnings by institutions
such as First Call or IBES. Negative earnings surprises generally have a greater adverse affect on stock prices
than the reciprocal positive earnings surprise on stock prices.
The ratio of earnings per share after allowing for tax and interest payments on fixed interest
debt, to the current share price. The inverse of the price/earnings ratio. It's the Total Twelve Months earnings
divided by number of outstanding shares, divided by the recent price, multiplied by 100. The end result is
shown in percentage.
EBBS - Earnings before the bad stuff
An acronym attributed to a member of the Securities and
Exchange Commission staff. The reference is to earnings that have been heavily adjusted to
remove a wide range of nonrecurring, nonoperating, and noncash items.
EBDDT - Earnings before depreciation and deferred taxes
This measure is used principally by
firms in the real estate industry, with the exception of real estate investment trusts, which typically
do not pay taxes.
The real flow of cash that a firm could pay out forever in the absence of any change in
the firm's productive capacity.
The production of financial statements, primarily for those interested parties who are external to the business.
a discipline in which historical, monetary
transactions are analyzed and recorded for use in the
preparation of the financial statements (balance sheet, income
statement, statement of owners’/stockholders’ equity,
and statement of cash flows); it focuses primarily on the
needs of external users (stockholders, creditors, and regulatory
Fully diluted earnings per shares
earnings per share expressed as if all outstanding convertible securities
and warrants have been exercised.
Up-front gain recognized from the securitization and sale of a pool
of loans. Profit is recorded for the excess of the sales price and the present value of the estimated
interest income that is expected to be received on the loans above the amounts funded on the loans
and the present value of the interest agreed to be paid to the buyers of the loan-backed securities.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP)
A technical accounting term that encompasses the
conventions, rules, and procedures necessary to define accepted accounting practice at a particular time.
Generally accepted accounting principles
The rules that accountants follow when processing accounting transactions and creating financial reports. The rules are primarily
derived from regulations promulgated by the various branches of the AICPA Council.
generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
This important term
refers to the body of authoritative rules for measuring profit and preparing
financial statements that are included in financial reports by a business
to its outside shareowners and lenders. The development of these
guidelines has been evolving for more than 70 years. Congress passed a
law in 1934 that bestowed primary jurisdiction over financial reporting
by publicly owned businesses to the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC). But the SEC has largely left the development of GAAP to the
private sector. Presently, the Financial accounting Standards Board is
the primary (but not the only) authoritative body that makes pronouncements
on GAAP. One caution: GAAP are like a movable feast. New rules
are issued fairly frequently, old rules are amended from time to time,
and some rules established years ago are discarded on occasion. Professional
accountants have a heck of time keeping up with GAAP, that’s for
sure. Also, new GAAP rules sometimes have the effect of closing the barn
door after the horse has left. accounting abuses occur, and only then,
after the damage has been done, are new rules issued to prevent such
abuses in the future.
generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
Procedures for preparing financial statements.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
A common set of standards and procedures
for the preparation of general-purpose financial statements that either have been established
by an authoritative accounting rule-making body, such as the Financial accounting
Standards Board (FASB), or over time have become accepted practice because of their universal
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
GAAP is the term used to describe the underlying rules basis on which financial statements are normally prepared. This is codified in the Handbook of The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
internal accounting controls
Refers to forms used and procedures
established by a business—beyond what would be required for the
record-keeping function of accounting—that are designed to prevent
errors and fraud. Two examples of internal controls are (1) requiring a
second signature by someone higher in the organization to approve a
transaction in excess of a certain dollar amount and (2) giving customers
printed receipts as proof of sale. Other examples of internal
control procedures are restricting entry and exit routes of employees,
requiring all employees to take their vacations and assigning another
person to do their jobs while they are away, surveillance cameras, surprise
counts of cash and inventory, and rotation of duties. Internal controls
should be cost-effective; the cost of a control should be less than
the potential loss that is prevented. The guiding principle for designing
internal accounting controls is to deter and detect errors and dishonesty.
The best internal controls in the world cannot prevent most fraud
by high-level managers who take advantage of their positions of trust
Low price-earnings ratio effect
The tendency of portfolios of stocks with a low price-earnings ratio to
outperform portfolios consisting of stocks with a high price-earnings ratio.
The production of financial and non-financial information used in planning for the future; making decisions about products, services, prices and what costs to incur; and ensuring that plans are implemented and achieved.
a discipline that includes almost
all manipulations of financial information for use by managers
in performing their organizational functions and in
assuring the proper use and handling of an entity’s resources;
it includes the discipline of cost accounting
Management Accounting Guidelines (MAGs)
pronouncements of the Society of Management Accountants of
Canada that advocate appropriate practices for specific
management accounting situations
net income (also called the bottom line, earnings, net earnings, and net
This key figure equals sales revenue for a period
less all expenses for the period; also, any extraordinary gains and losses
for the period are included in this final profit figure. Everything is taken
into account to arrive at net income, which is popularly called the bottom
line. Net income is clearly the single most important number in business
A term frequently used to describe earnings after the removal of the
effects of nonrecurring or nonoperating items.
Operational Earnings Management
Management actions taken in the effort to create stable
financial performance by acceptable, voluntary business decisions. An example: a special discount
promotion to increase flagging sales near the end of a quarter when targets are not being met.
earnings before the effects of any earnings-management activities.
price-earnings (P/E) multiple (ratio)
Ratio of stock price to earnings per share.
Price / Earnings (P/E) Ratio
The ratio of price to earnings. Faster growing or less-risky firms typically have higher P/E ratios than either slower-growing or more risky firms.
Price/earnings ratio (PE ratio)
Shows the "multiple" of earnings at which a stock sells. Determined by dividing current
stock price by current earnings per share (adjusted for stock splits). earnings per share for the P/E ratio is
determined by dividing earnings for past 12 months by the number of common shares outstanding. Higher
"multiple" means investors have higher expectations for future growth, and have bid up the stock's price.
price/earnings ratio (price to earnings ratio, P/E ratio, PE ratio)
This key ratio equals the current market price
of a capital stock share divided by the earnings per share (EPS) for the
stock. The EPS used in this ratio may be the basic EPS for the stock or its
diluted EPS—you have to check to be sure about this. A low P/E may signal
an undervalued stock or may reflect a pessimistic forecast by
investors for the future earnings prospects of the business. A high P/E
may reveal an overvalued stock or reflect an optimistic forecast by
investors. The average P/E ratio for the stock market as a whole varies
considerably over time—from a low of about 8 to a high of about 30.
This is quite a range of variation, to say the least.
Price to Earnings Ratio (P/E, PE Ratio)
A measure of how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar
of a company's reported profits. It is calculated by dividing the
market price per share by the earnings per share.
Reported net income with selected nonrecurring items of revenue or gain
and expense or loss deducted from or added back, respectively, to reported net income. Occasionally
selected nonoperating or noncash items are also treated as adjustment items.
Method of accounting for a merger in which the acquirer is treated as having purchased
the assets and assumed liabilities of the acquiree, which are all written up or down to their respective fair
market values, the difference between the purchase price and the net assets acquired being attributed to goodwill.
Real Actions (Earnings) Management
Involves operational steps and not simply acceleration
or delay in the recognition of revenue or expenses. The delay or acceleration of shipment would
be an example.
Regulatory accounting procedures
accounting principals required by the FHLB that allow S&Ls to elect
annually to defer gains and losses on the sale of assets and amortize these deferrals over the average life of the
responsibility accounting system
an accounting information system for successively higher-level managers about the performance of segments or subunits under the control
of each specific manager
Profits a company plowed back into the business over the years. Last January’s retained earnings, plus the net income or profit that a company made this year (which is calculated on the income statement), minus dividends paid out, equals the retained earnings balance on the balance sheet date.
The residual earnings of the company.
A company’s accumulated earnings since its inception, less any distributions to shareholders.
earnings not paid out as dividends.
Net profits kept to accumulate in a business after dividends are paid.
Roth IRA. An IRA account whose earnings are not taxable at all under certain
Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB)
Interpretations and practices followed by the staff of the Office of the Chief Accountant and the Division of Corporation Finance in administering the disclosure
requirements of the federal securities laws.
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