Creative Accounting Raises Growth Eyebrows

Accounting procedures at an Indianapolis-based insurance giant has raised the eyebrows of analysts regarding how profits have been reported.

When Conseco, Inc. reported its first quarter 2000 profits to the Securities and Exchange Commission, it used an investment the company made in December with a wireless communications company, Tritel, Inc., to boost profits within Insurance Division. Conseco reported a gain of $355 million from that investment.

The reported increase totaled almost 11 percent rather than the modest, projected figure of 2.3 percent.

Are such accounting moves legal? According to Conseco, the answer is 'yes,' but one analyst commented that realized gains do not equate to actual earnings.

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