Has Non-GAAP Reporting Become an Accounting Chasm?
Non-GAAP financials can be described as “numbers management talks about once the auditor leaves the room.” Often described as “adjusted,” “core,” or “cash” earnings, these figures purport to give investors a cleaner view of a company’s true operations before the subtraction of a whole host of pesky expenses required by generally accepted accounting principles, or U.S. GAAP. Non-GAAP financials are not audited and are most often disclosed through earnings press releases and investor presentations, rather than in the company’s annual report filed with the SEC.
Once upon a time, non-GAAP financials were used to isolate the impact of significant one-time events like a major restructuring or sizeable acquisition. In recent years, they have become increasingly prevalent and prominent, from the shiniest new economy IPOs to old economy stalwarts.