THE BAKER HUGHES WORKSHEET ANALYSIS
The nonrecurring items located in the Baker Hughes annual report are enumerated in the completed SEB worksheet in Exhibit 2.35. Each of the nonrecurring items is recorded on the SEB worksheet. When an item is disclosed for the first, second, third, or fourth time, it is designated by a corresponding superscript
in a summary of the search process provided in Exhibit 2.36. For purposes of illustration, all nonrecurring items have been recorded on the SEB worksheet without regard to their materiality. We have followed this procedure because a materiality threshold would exclude a series of either immaterial gains or losses that could, in combination, distort a firm’s apparent profitability. An effort is made to consider the possible effects of materiality in a report on the efficiency of the search process presented in Exhibit 2.37.
Without adjustment, Baker Hughes’s income statement reports net income of $105.4 million in 1995, $176.4 million in 1996, and $97.0 million in 1997. The impression obtained is a company with a volatile earnings stream and no apparent growth. However, the complete adjustment for nonrecurring items conveys quite a different message. After restatement, sustainable earnings amount to $97.4 million in 1995, $158.6 million in 1996, and $241.3 million in 1997. This suggests that profits are in fact growing, though acquisitions have contributed to this result.
It should be clear that the number and magnitude of nonrecurring items identified in the Baker Hughes annual report caused its unanalyzed earnings data to be unreliable indicators of profit performance. Without the comprehensive identification of nonrecurring items and the development of the SEB
worksheet, the company’s three-year operating performance is virtually impossible to discern. The efficient search sequence for identifying nonrecurring items in Exhibit 2.3 was based on the experience of the authors supported by a large-scale study of nonrecurring items by H. Choi. While the recommended search sequence may not be equally effective in all cases, Exhibit 2.37 demonstrates that most of Baker Hughes’s nonrecurring items could be located by employing only steps 1 to 5, a sequence that is very cost-effective. In fact, 92% of all material nonrecurring items were located through the first four steps of the search sequence. Further, locating these items requires reading very little text, and the nonrecurring items are generally set out prominently in either statements or schedules.
Exhibit 2.37 presents information on the efficiency of the search process. The meaning of each column in the exhibit is as follows:
Column 1: The number of nonrecurring items located at each step in the search process. This is based on all 17 nonrecurring items without regard to their materiality.
Column 2: The cumulative percentage of all nonrecurring items located through each step of the search process. Ninety four percent of the total nonrecurring items were located through the first five steps of the search process. All nonrecurring items were located by step 6.
Column 3: Same as column 1 except only material nonrecurring items (those items exceeding 5% of net income on an after-tax basis).
Column 4: Same as column 2 except that only material nonrecurring items were considered.