This book is a collection of financial accounting cases designed to help you become a financial statement user. Learning accounting is very much like learning a new language. The best way to learn any language is to immerse yourself in the language and to converse with many people. Conversations speed up language acquisition and teach the nuances of the language. Conversations strengthen language skills and build breadth. We have created, with this collection of cases, a set of conversational opportunities for you in accounting. You will learn accounting by reading financial statements and by responding to topical questions about those financials. By reading and using many different companies' financial statements, you will speed-up your acquisition of accounting concepts and skills. By observing the nuances of financial reporting, you will quickly learn to speak "accounting," the language of business.
These materials bridge a void in introductory financial statement materials at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Typically, students are required to read a textbook chapter and do some exercises to ensure concept comprehension. Assigned end of chapter material, however, is often not sufficiently challenging to students with stronger analytical abilities. Questions often focus on financial statement preparation rather than, as appropriate for many students, financial statement use. At the other extreme, unstructured discussion cases can leave students with a weak grasp of the mechanics and subtleties of financial accounting. The cases presented here fill the void.
Each case deals with a specific financial accounting topic framed within the context of one corporation's financial statements. Usually, a case contains financial statement information (a balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flows, and footnotes) and a set of specific questions pertaining to one financial accounting issue. You will use the financial statement information to infer and interpret the economic events underlying the numbers. Some cases are accompanied by a related article taken from the business press. In those instances, information from the article is incorporated into the questions in the case. Some cases involve two companies within an industry and the case questions focus on intercompany comparisons of financial information. WHAT MAKES THESE MATERIALS UNIQUE
These materials have a proven track record. The book was developed from the course materials used since 1991 at the University of Texas at Austin. The course (a semester-long, compulsory, first-year introductory class) has been extremely well-received by students each semester it is taught. The course consistently receives among the highest student evaluations in the UT M.B.A. core.
Several unique features distinguish this casebook:
Financial Statement DiversityThis book comprises 39 cases covering 40 reporting entities. We believe that you will appreciate the exposure to many different companies and quickly learn that, while financial statements do not all look the same, they can all be understood and used.
Current Financial StatementsThe cases are very current; primarily dated 1995 through 1999. This affords you the opportunity to read and use pertinent and timely financial information. Some older cases have been included because they explicate a concept particularly well or because they demonstrate an uncommon trend.
International Financial StatementsCases cover companies from France, Japan, the U.K. and Canada as well as from the U.S. Many of the U.S. companies are major multinationals. Increased globalization of business necessitates your facility with financial statements other than those prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Some international cases require you to recast the financials to U.S. GAAP. Thus, you will become a sophisticated user of financial information.
Internet Format of Corporate ReportsMany of the financial statements, MD&A, Forms 10-K and 10-Q, and other corporate information in the casebook have been retrieved from the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database. The presentation of the material has been deliberately left consistent with the on-line presentation. If you are already accessing this type of information on-line, the presentation in these cases will be familiar to you.
Learning ObjectivesCases are prefaced with a set of learning objectives. These become your learning goals as you work through the cases. The focus of each case is made clear through these objectives.
Corporate DescriptionsEach case focuses on one or two sets of financial statements. A brief description of the companies in the case is designed to remind you that accounting information is used in specific business contexts. Reported financial accounting numbers are the result of a series of complex, professional estimates and judgments. Many of these are influenced by industry practice. Correctly reading and interpreting financial information is predicated on your awareness of a company's business and industry. THE 'CPA' APPROACHCONCEPTS, PROCESS, AND ANALYSIS
As in the second edition the questions are organized in "C.P.A." order.
Concepts: The typical case begins with a set of conceptual questions. As we introduce each topic area, we want to ensure that you are familiar with the vocabulary and the broader concepts before moving into the specific application to the case-corporation. These general questions focus each case on its topic area. For example, the Maytag case on warranties begins with the conceptual questions "from the consumer's standpoint, what is a warranty?" and "from Maytag's standpoint, what is a warranty?" Here, too, you will be required to retrieve specific information from the financial statements but not to manipulate it. For example, the Wachovia case on marketable securities asks "what balance did the company report on its balance sheet for trading securities?" These concept questions call for factual responses that you are likely to easily provide.
Process: Before you become a sophisticated consumer of accounting information you need an understanding of the accounting process and the basics of financial statement preparation. Thus, the second set of questions in each case focuses on the process. Process questions require you to manipulate financial statement information via calculations, journal entries, and T-accounts. It is at this point that many textbook exercises end. However, we believe that the accounting process is not the end but the means by which you will build a firm understanding of how financial accounting works the way it does.
Analysis: With a strong understanding of the concepts and a solid knowledge of the accounting cycle, you are ready for higher level analytical questions. These questions have you synthesize, analyze, interpret information and formulate and defend your opinion. Thus, higher-order thinking skills are required in the analysis questions.
By grouping the case questions into the C.P.A. categories, the text has broad audience. Taken alone, the Concept and Process questions are perfectly aimed at undergraduate introductory financial accounting classes. Because many M.B.A. students have taken some accounting and most have had some business experience, they are better prepared to handle the Analysis questions even at the introductory level. Several topics (e.g. pensions, OPEB, marketable securities, deferred taxes) included in this edition are not typically covered in an introductory course: These can be used at the intermediate level for undergraduate and M.B.A. classes. For intermediate and financial statement analysis courses, the Concept questions can be used by your instructor to start class discussion. Taking up these questions first ensures that you are on firm ground before you tackle the more challenging Analysis questions. The full set of financial statements included with each case affords you and your class instructor the opportunity to explore issues the Analysis questions do not touch upon. NEW IN THE 3RD EDITION
In keeping with the contemporary flavor of the first two editions, approximately one-third of the cases have been either updated to more recent financial statements or are completely new. We have reduced the total number of cases, eliminating ones covering more technical issues and combining others to reduce redundancies. All cases have been reviewed with an eye to improving their clarity.
In this edition, the cases are found alphabetically by company name. To get a feel for the scope of the cases as a whole, we refer you to the table of contents. There, the cases are presented in a conceptual orderthe order we use them at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. HOW TO USE THESE MATERIALS
These cases are designed to be used in conjunction with an introductory, intermediate, or financial statement analysis textbook. The order in which material is presented by your instructor does not affect the relevance of the cases. Each case stands alone and while some cases naturally precede others, there is no prescribed order.
As you use these materials, notice two main themesearnings persistence and the quality of earnings. The first third of the cases in the book relate to the framework of financial reporting. In these cases you are acquiring skills in basic financial statement preparation, and in understanding how financial statements aid in the investment decision process. In achieving the latter, we emphasize how financial statements classify items and how such classifications are important in the prediction of the nature, uncertainty, and timing of future cash flows. Thus, we introduce the notion of earnings persistence and how it affects firm valuation. The remainder of the cases explore the accounting issues for the major financial statement line items. We place particular emphasis on the latitude and judgment management has in arriving at the reported numbers and the economic consequences of their choices. This introduces the notion of the quality of earnings. The cases are designed to help you acquire the skills necessary to identify quality of earnings issues and learn how to deal with them (for example, by restating the financials under different assumptions or accounting methods). ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
A number of people need to be thanked. First, the University of Texas at Austin students who have used prior versions of the cases have provided tremendous feedback. Second, our teaching assistants have helped craft some of the best questions in the book. Special thanks are due to Alex Yen, Pat Hopkins, Paul Simko, Fred Phillips, Mike Goldman, Bryce Birdsong and Kris Weinman. Bob May provided invaluable help in organizing and structuring the package as a whole. We received many helpful suggestions from Lauren Kelly who taught from the materials at UT. Feedback from reviewers, including Roman Weil (Chicago), Joan Luft (Michigan State) and Charles Horngren (Stanford) was also appreciated. Patty Webb diligently proofread the text and provided many suggestions. Finally, Annie Todd, Debbie Hoffman and their crew at Prentice Hall kept the project going and saw it to completion. Thanks to all!
Although we have made every effort to avoid errors, any that remain are solely our responsibility. Should you have any suggestions for improving this product, we would love to hear from you. We can be reached by telephone, fax, or e-mail as follows:
Eric Hirst, (P) 512-471-5565, (F) 512-471-3904, Eric.Hirst@bus.utexas Mary Lea McAnally, (P) 512-471-2163, (F) 512-471-3904, MaryLea.McAnally@bus.utexas ABOUT THE AUTHORS
D. Eric Hirst, Ph.D., is an associate professor McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in accounting from the University of. Minnesota and M.Acc. and B.A. from the University of Waterloo. He worked as a Chartered Accountant with experience in public practice. His research has been published in The Journal of Accounting Research, Contemporary Accounting Research, The Journal of Financial Statement Analysis, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, The International Tax Journal, CA Magazine, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. At UT, Professor Hirst teaches financial accounting and financial statement analysis in the regular and executive M.B.A. programs. He was awarded the 1995 Joe D. Beasley award for teaching excellence in the M.B.A. core and the 2000 Graduate Business Council Teaching Excellence Award for Outstanding Involvement in the MBA Community.
Mary Lea McAnally, Ph.D., CA is an assistant professor of accounting McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. She obtained her Ph.D. from Stanford University and B.Comm. from the University of Alberta. She is a Chartered Accountant with experience in public practice and industry. She is also a Certified Internal Auditor. Her research interests include capital markets, accounting and disclosure in regulated environments, and accounting for risk. She has published articles in The Journal of Accounting and Economics, The Journal of Accounting Research, and The Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance. At UT, Professor McAnally teaches financial accounting in the M.B.A. and undergraduate programs. She received the 1994 and 2000 Teaching Excellence Award for Outstanding Professor in an M.B.A. Core Class, the 1997 Joe D. Beasley award for teaching excellence in the M.B.A. core, and the 1999 Trammell CBA Award for assistant professors.
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