The 'Angel of Accounting Death' Looms on Wall Street

If there's anyone left who believes that the discussions about accounting policies and irregularities over the past two months is nothing but an academic discussion, better check your stock portfolio.

Various stock indices closed down 2-3% percent on Monday in reaction to the growing awareness of the possibility of accounting monkey-business in publicly held companies.

"The angel of accounting death is riding through the market," said Douglas Altabef, a fund manager for Matrix Asset Advisors, which oversees $800 million. "This issue of credibility is a very serious one."

On investors minds are the following revelations and investigations surrounding accounting issues:

  • Enron, the one that started it all.

  • Tyco International Ltd, which revealed that it had spent $8 billion in the past three years on over 700 acquisitions that were never publicly disclosed.

  • Kmart revealed last week that it received an anonymous tip about accounting irregularities that may have led to its bankruptcy.

  • General Electric, "just because it has a complicated balance sheet" according to reports.

  • Enterasys, a network equipment maker revealed that it was under investigation by the SEC for accounting irregularities.

  • Elan, an Irish based drug maker, has been under fire in the past week because of concerns about accounting methods.

  • Global Crossing, a telecom that recently declared bankruptcy, has its accounting methods under scrutiny by the SEC.

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