Burroughs Corp. has agreed to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission of charges that the Detroit-based computer and electronics company misstated some of its earnings figures in 1981 and 1982.
In the settlement, under which it neither admitted nor denied the SEC's charges, Burroughs agreed to shift $35.3 million in charges against earnings from 1982 to 1981. No other portions of the company's earnings will be restated.
Burroughs also agreed to retain independent consultants to review some of its internal accounting systems.
The dispute arose over accounting for "additional reserves" made by the company to cover inventory obsolescence in the fourth quarter of 1982. The SEC said that Burroughs, faced with large inventories of obsolete computer equipment in 1981 and 1982, eventually wrote off the inventories in 1982's fourth quarter. The SEC, however, charged that Burroughs had calculated the value of its obsolete inventory inaccurately and had written it off later than was necessary.
"The commission has concluded that Burroughs materially overvalued its inventories in excess of their net realizable value during 1981 and 1982, and that part of the writeoff which was realized during the fourth quarter of 1982 was properly allocatable to prior reporting periods," the SEC said.
"In addition, Burroughs did not make and keep books, records and accounts which in reasonable detail accurately and fairly reflected the value of its inventories, and its internal accounting controls for the determination of inventory valuation and obsolescence were inadequate."
Under the agreement, Burroughs restated its earnings for the third and fourth quarters of 1981 and for all four quarters of 1982 to spread out the effects of the write-offs more realistically.
The overall effect of the changes is to reduce the company's 1981 earnings by $35.3 million -- to $218.8 million from the $254.1 million originally reported -- and to increase its 1982 earnings by the same amount, to $110.4 million from $75.1 million.
At the same time, the company included $2 million in income in the fourth quarter of 1981 to reflect an unrelated sale of real estate that company auditors found had been accounted for improperly.
In a statement, Burroughs -- whose chairman is former Treasury secretary Michael Blumenthal -- said it chose to settle the matter to avoid costly litigation and a "diversion of management resources."