Uh-oh, that’s gonna leave a mark:

FASB: Stock Options’ Value Must be Deducted From Profits Next Year

The nation’s accounting rulemaker decided Thursday that companies will have to begin deducting the value of stock options from their profits next year, a move cheered by shareholder advocates but scorned by many companies who rely heavily on options to beef up compensation packages.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s long-awaited decision means
public companies will have to start expensing options beginning with their
first annual reporting period after June 15, 2005.   

- Dow Jones Newswires

There’s a reason that so many tech firms have been lobbying against the FASB rule change. Many firms that managed to show profits in the 90′s turn out not to be so profitible after all, if you count what they spent on options / share repurchases.

Any of the firms (typically tech firms) that issue a lot of stock options are going to see their balance sheets get rather ugly next year. Taking these charges means a lot of companies that used to have reasonable P/Es will look far less cheap next year.

Stock options are no longer off balance sheet — they are an expense that must be fully and transparently accounted for . . . and that may leave a mark on quite a few balance sheets.

If you have been looking for an excuse to dump your Nasdaq issues, the new FASB rules on Stock options is it.

Regardless of your views on this rule, it now makes a slew of equities much much more pricey. All of your favorite former high flyers from the 1990s — it turns out that they were never really all that profitible — assuming they have to expense stock options like they are supposed to . . .

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UPDATE: March 17, 2004 2005 9:41 AM    
Is it just me, or has no one really grokked the significance of this to tech firms?

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Sources
FASB Rule Issuance on Employee Issued Stock Options
http://www.fasb.org/pdf/fas123r.pdf

Companies Told to Start Expensing Options
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP)
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Accounting-Rules.html

Stock option expensing required next year
Ed Frauenheim
CNET News.com, December 16, 2004, 3:49 PM PST
http://news.com.com/Stock+option+expensing+required+next+year/2100-1014_3-5494474.html

New rule: Firms must expense options
December 16, 2004: 5:13 PM EST
NEW YORK (Reuters) http://money.cnn.com/2004/12/16/technology/fasb_options.reut/index.htm

Category: Markets

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3 Responses to “FASB: Stock Options Must be Deducted”

  1. John Chambers says:

    Uh oh.

  2. Fabio Lanzoni says:

    Poof! There goes Google’s claims to profitability for the next decade.

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