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Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports, Third Edition (Professional Finance & Investment) Hardcover – 1 Jun 2010

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About the Author

Howard Schilit, Ph.D., CPA, is the founderand chief executive officer of the FinancialShenanigans Detection (FSD) Group, LLC. Dr. Schilit is a pioneer in the field of detecting accounting tricks in corporate financial reports that mislead investors. He is the author of Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports, now in its 3rd Edition. Howard was the founder and CEO of CFRA, a global forensic accounting research organization. He has been a leading spokesman before the US Congress, the SEC, and global media outlets about the causes and early warning signs of accounting tricks in public filings. Dr. Schilit began his career as an Associate Professor of Accounting at American University and continues to teach and lecture all over the world. Dr. Schilit holds his doctorate in Accounting from the University of Maryland.
Jeremy Perler, CFA, CPA, is the Director of Research at Schilit Forensics and co-author of FinancialShenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports (3rd edition, 2010). Previously, Jeremy served as the in-house Forensic Accounting Analyst for CoatueManagement, a long/short equity hedge fund; Director of Research for CFRA; and auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers. In addition, Mr. Perler serves on the FASB's Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council (FASAC) as a representative of the Investor Community. Jeremy holds a Master of Accounting and a BBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw Hill Education; 3 edition (1 June 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071703071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071703079
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #60,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Superb technique. Very simple explanation to complex stuff. You need accounting background to understand what the author is saying. Well surely help you understand the manipulation of numbers in real time. Must read
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives us cases by which a stock analyst can understand the pitfalls in a company's financial statements. A must read for anyone trying to invest or advice.
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent techniques but you need little accounting knowledge..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 55 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I find the content of this book good and most of it useful 18 October 2015
By Lynn C. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one who invests for long term reliable income using the dividends paid by publicly traded stocks, I find the content of this book good and most of it useful, at least at the conceptual level. The author gives several examples of companies who have accelerated earnings, delayed expenses and booked what should have been operational cash flow as cash flow used for investing activities. This is good and helpful. But what the book does not do is show you where you can find such information in the quarterly or annual shareholder reports. Where would I go to find information that would lead me to understand that the company is selling its A/R and what wording is typically used that would suggest A/R has been sold?

And one constructive suggestion to the author....most who will want to read your book are sophisticated enough to know the basics of financial statements and are likely interested in getting into the 'meat' of the shenanigan. But you often begin chapters or descriptive sections of a chapter with somewhat lengthy quaint metaphorical examples as a lead in to the shenanigan you're about to address. As I progressed through the book, I found this distracting and would skip those pages. I appreciate keeping the book interesting and non-boring, but sometimes a little bit of analogous description goes a long way :-)

Otherwise, this is a very good book on this subject.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for investors 1 September 2013
By Don - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book by Howard Schilit and Jeremy Perler dives deep into the dark world of corporate accounting, blowing apart common tricks corporate accountants use to make businesses look better than they are.
The book hits hard on the many changes in GAAP accounting and how masterful accountants trick business analysts with gimmickry.

In total there are:

7 Earnings manipulation shenanigans – These run the gamut from simple revenue recognition discrepancies to very disingenuous sales processes that allow a company to record revenue before a sale is even made. The author boosts this section of the book with high-quality examples from leading public companies including Sunbeam and IBM. You won’t believe the extent to which high-profile companies report earnings beats with fictitious accounting numbers.

4 Cash flow shenanigans – The cash flow statement is one of the most difficult to engineer – a company produces cash, or it doesn’t. However, accounting teams still have four methods to boost cash flows when a business would otherwise produce very little free cash. This section primarily focuses on how businesses shift financing cash flows (money from stock and bond sales) into operating income. Also, this section uncovers how acquisitions and disposition can be used to make cash flow look stronger than it really is.

3 Key metric shenanigans – This section targets the key metrics used by executives when they talk about their business and brand. In particular, it examines how corporate brass can turn attention away from struggling businesses with non-GAAP measures like “same store sales” or “average revenue per user.” This section curiously touches on the subject of “bookings,” a metric used by recent IPOs like Groupon to hide their true revenue per user metrics. This is a must-read section for people who tune into corporate conference calls or who read conference call presentations.

This book will also help anyone who:

Invests in individual stocks – Particularly in large cap companies, where the sheer complexity of one or many businesses can hide the true operating performance of a company, this book gives investors a way to “fact” check the going-ons of a company from quarter to quarter. If you invest in individual stocks, this is a must-read book.

Values stocks on cash flows – The cash flow shenanigans are absolutely incredible. Anyone who uses a discounted cash flow analysis to value companies will appreciate the wisdom in Financial Shenanigans. The cash flow statement is not as impenetrable as investors seem to believe.

Wants to learn more about financial history – The book takes you through the evolution of corporate scams and accounting frauds. The author makes frequent references to massive scams like Enron and Worldcom, and even goes back in time to show you how investors could have caught onto the false accounting that made these companies the biggest frauds in Wall Street history.

What I like most about the book is that it doesn’t just expose the gimmicks that businesses use to fake their financials. Instead, the authors go to great lengths to give examples, and then explain how you can fact check the accounting of any public company.

All in all, at little more than $18 for the hardcover, this is a must-own book for any serious individual stock investor. It’s easy to read, easy to follow (there are literally hundreds of examples), and easy to apply what you learn to companies you watch immediately after reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I personally loved this book for the following reasons 21 April 2016
By Brandon Whitlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I personally loved this book for the following reasons:

Very clear graphics to follow.
Very clear break down of how companies manage money inappropriately.
Easy to follow and actually a fun read from a typically dull subject.

If anything the only two downsides from this book are below:

The transitions between sections and sub sections are repetitive, and a little annoying.
The author occasionally talks down to the reader, and I think this is unintentional.

The overall content, author knowledge, and easy to read breakdown of accounting gimmicks gets a 5 from me.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accounting Fraud is Advancing Quickly - Covers the Basics 15 December 2011
By Michael Madison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book does a very good job of laying the foundation of accounting fraud on the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement, the traditional accounting fraud that brought down companies like Enron, Wordcom, et. al.

Accounting fraud has gone beyond Enron, though using similar concepts, such as off - balance sheet accounting. But we are in a brave new world of derivatives, Repo 105, and other sophisticated accounting gimmicks that now amount to trillions of dollars worldwide. This debt is not accounted for in companies, investment banks, and brokerages but they are there, creating massive instability in the financial world. I would have liked to have seen more on the the advancing post 2008 accounting frauds, and how banks and insiders continue to cover their financial misdeeds in this manner. This seems like the final phase of accounting fraud, where the entire system is now jeopardized. Now we are seeing accounting fraud affect and destroy entire markets as financial managers especially "up the ante" in their boldness for committing these crimes, and I would like to see these shenanigans covered from the technical aspects of accounting in this brave new world of massive fraud.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone doing financial statement analysis 2 August 2011
By KedarM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently read through most of the book written by Howard Schilit. It was a very rewarding experience and I will keep going back to this book frequently as I read through annual reports for public companies.

To set the expectations, this book is useful in looking behind the numbers and understanding the real significance of the swings year over year( or quarter over quarter). It will empower you in a whole different way and you will be able to get more insight into the operational strength/growth of the underlying company.

I have been reading 10-K and 10-Q reports for over 3 years now. I never buy a stock unless I have read through the recent filings. This helps me understand the state of the business, the growth prospects and to some extend the risks in the sector. I would say though, out of experience, that just looking at the numbers is not going to help much. Doing the vertical and horizontal analysis will give more insight as to the growth of the company. For sometime now I was searching for books that shed light on the analysis of "Statement of Cash flows", but I did not find any. After reading this one, I no longer need to refer to any book for analysis of annual and quarterly reports.

The author has done an amazing job of explaining how companies can manipulate( or outright break) SEC guidelines for accounting rules. The book provides easy to understand guidelines to review the company reports with a new perspective and help build our own framework for the analysis. If you understand basic accounting, what 'Income Statement', ' Balance Sheet' and "Statement of Cash Flows' stand for, you will benefit largely for reading this book.

You will mostly hear people say that its very important to read the section 7 ( or 7A) in the annual reports. This is where the management explains the growth of the company, talks about the strategy and future plans. This is the place where management tells you( the investor) what they want you to know. And they hide all the important stuff ( like revenue recognition changes, changes to depreciation schedule etc) in the foot notes, where we rarely go ( they are at the end of the reports which are already about 100 pages long). What I found surprising is that its so easy to manipulate the data to portray a stronger operational growth for the company.

One word of caution though, this is not a read and forget exercise. Once you read the book and understand the shenanigans, you will have to put considerable effort to read behind the numbers. I would say that you will require at least twice as much time to do this as compared to the time you invested earlier. But take my word, that it will be well worth it and you can save your portfolio from the shock when the companies are penalized for these tricks.