Using its new standard for measuring profitability, Standard & Poor's (S&P) ranked companies in order of highest to lowest gaps between their reported earnings and core earnings for 2001. The companies at the bottom of the list are the "winners." Those at the top of the list are the "losers" with the most inflated profits.
When earnings were measured by this new yardstick, the top ten winners for 2001 were JDS Uniphase, Corning, Applied Micro Circuits, El Paso, Chevron/Texaco, J.P. Morgan Chase, Safeco, Ciena, AT&T, and AIG.
The losers (companies with the most inflated profits) were DuPont, IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, Verizon, Motorola, Cisco, AOL Time Warner, SBC Communications, and Boeing.
In applying its yardstick, S&P found the most common reasons for differences between book and core earnings were income from pension funds, charges related to acquisitions, and costs of stock options. S&P's Web site contains a worksheet showing the effects of adjusting Cisco's 2001 earnings for these factors. Download the spreadsheet.
View the details of the top ten winners and losers as reported in Business Week.
S&P's methodology does not suggest accounting irregularities or a likelihood of future financial restatements. For additional information about S&P's intent and methodology, visit its core earnings Web site.