Mgt. Faculty Study Misleading Accounting Practices

Professors Mulford and Comiskey's New Book Shows How to Look at Sustainable Cash Flow as an Accurate Measure of a Company's Financial Performance

Investors who've been burned by numerous corporate accounting scandals in recent years have increasingly turned their attention from questionable earnings reports to cash flow when gauging a company's financial performance.

But cash-flow reports may not be any more trustworthy a measure, according to a new book, Creative Cash Flow Reporting: Uncovering Sustainable Financial Performance, written by accounting professors Charles Mulford and Eugene Comiskey of Georgia Tech's College of Management and published by Wiley.

The authors, who will hold a book signing at 5:00 PM on March 10 at the Management building, describe how generally-accepted accounting practices can be used to produce misleading operating cash-flow statements.

"Managers are well aware of the importance placed by analysts, investors, and creditors on operating cash flow," write Mulford and Comiskey. "Cash flow is the lifeblood of any organization. A boost in operating cash flow, even as total cash flow remains unchanged, communicates enhanced financial performance."

Their book, aimed at individual investors and other serious readers of financial statements, provides detailed instructions for revealing a clearer picture of a company's financial performance by calculating sustainable cash flow. Profitable operations are a must to produce sustainable cash flow, which is recurring cash, but companies often can generate positive operating cash flow without actually turning a profit, Mulford and Comiskey explain.

"I always assumed that operating cash flow was the last word when it comes to evaluating a company's results," writes Harry Domash, publisher of the Winning Investor newsletter and an investing columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and MSN Money. "No more! Mulford and Comiskey's latest effort opened my eyes to what really counts: sustainable cash flow."

Creative Cash Flow Reporting is the authors' follow-up to their best-selling 2002 book The Financial Numbers Game: Detecting Creative Accounting Practices, which generated extensive media attention in the wake of enormous accounting scandals involving Enron, Worldcom, and other corporate giants. The Financial Times recently ranked it among the very best personal-investing books ever.

Mulford and Comiskey also have collaborated on the books Financial Warnings (1996) and Guide to Financial Reporting and Analysis (2000).

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.