Weil's View on Finance
Anybody want to take bets on how long the Nasdaq stays open for business today? A few more sessions like yesterday’s and Las Vegas oddsmakers could find a new niche business posting over-under lines on the number of daily trading hours, like they do with total points in pro football games. But enough joking around. Let’s get on to this morning’s links.
There is so much more to corporate earnings than net income
The Georgia Tech Financial Analysis Lab sent out a report today that is a must-read for anyone who looks at financial statements on a regular basis. Bottom line: Don’t treat net income as the bottom line. You have to look at “other comprehensive income,” too, because that’s where a lot of losses get buried. Accounting professor Charles Mulford and his staff studied earnings at large U.S. companies from 2010 to 2012 and show the numbers.
Blackberry and the perils of share buybacks
Floyd Norris has a beautifully written column in the New York Times today on a very sad subject: Blackberry. The company did so well for so long. And it spent billions of dollars buying back its own stock at the top of the market, rather than putting the money toward useful purposes such as research and development. Executives benefitted, and so did anyone else who sold at the top, whereas “shareholders who believed in the company’s future did not,” Norris writes.
How Greece handles home foreclosures
For the most part the government doesn’t allow them. It’s been that way since a moratorium took effect in 2009. But now the ban might be lifted, but only a little bit. Perhaps 15,000 properties could be repossessed. Only 2 percent of homeowners who have been protected from repossessions would be affected by the policy change, according to the Athens newspaper Kathimerini. No wonder Greece’s banks lose so much money. They lend it, they don’t get it back, and the customers don’t have to move.
So many investigations of old stuff, yawn
It seems like half of today’s financial news stories are about government investigations of ancient history. Dealbreaker’s Matt Levine says this is very boring to him -- so boring, that he wrote a long commentary about it with six footnotes: “The stories carry a whiff of looking for the keys under the lamppost: why would regulators bother to look for new bits of wrongdoing when they haven’t exhausted all of the charges they can bring from the old, already admitted bits of wrongdoing?”
Yes, there is such a thing as accounting humor
From Going Concern, which covers the accounting industry like TMZ covers Hollywood celebrities: “Someone Who Has Never Dated an Accountant Came Up with 15 Reasons to Date an Accountant”
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)
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