A conference Board survey of corporate financial officers released yesterday shows a majority would like the controversial accounting rule on how to deal with foreign exchange fluctuations in quarterly earnings reports to be repealed.
The financial officers are dissatisfied with what is known as Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 8 because they believe it distorts company operating results and produces misleading information.STThe rule, which went into effect in 1976 and is currently under review by the FASB, is meant to adjust complex earnings statements of multinational companies in a world of floating exchange rates. But it has at the same time led to some extraordinary fluctuations in earnings reports.
For example, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group recently reported that earnings in the first quarter of 1978, after adjustment for FASB, totaled $10.9 million. But before adjustment they actually came to $519.8 million. The Anglo-Dutch company had to adhere to the U.S. accounting rule because its shares are traded on American exchanges.
Of the Conference Board survey's 117 respondents - most of whom are chief financial officers for major corporations - 60 urged outright repeal, another 24 wanted the rule modified and only 17 said they would like to keep it. The remaining 16 executives had no opinion.
Those favoring retention said the rule has put all companies on a common footing in reporting foreign exchange transactions where, prior to the new rules, companies used various methods in reporting the impact of foreign exchange movements on their earnings.
Those opposing the rule said they would most like to change the provisions that require inventories to be valued at historical exchange rates, and foreign exchange gains and losses to be recognized immediately.
Because of the rule 59 respondents indicated that their companies have adopted financing, operating or accounting practices that would not have been adopted on the basis of pure business considerations.
The Conference Board is a nonprofit business research organization.