Chapter 9Accounting: Facts or Fiction?

“GE Brings Good Things to Life,” But Not to Accounting

General Electric's 2013 earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations came at $1.47, compared with $1.38 and $1.23 for 2012 and 2011, respectively. Don't you marvel at the exactitude of accounting? Computing the earnings of a worldwide company with 307,000 employees and annual revenues of $146 billion to the last penny? EPS of $1.47, not $1.46, or $1.48. No uncertainty (“around $1.50”), or range (“between $1.40 and $1.50”). Exact and incontrovertible measurement of business performance. No wonder the accounting system has endured for so long; where in life will you find such resoluteness and reliability?

But scratch the shining surface a bit and you'll find that all this exactitude and definitiveness is ...

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