As restatements numbers have fallen in recent years, so too have out-of-period adjustments, according to a recent analysis by Audit Analytics.
In 2017, public companies recorded a total of 276 out-of-period adjustments, which correct immaterial errors without restating prior financial statements. That’s a decline of 5 percent over the 330 out-of-period adjustments reported in 2016, the firm says, following several years of up-and-down results.
Out-of-period adjustments were unheard of before the Securities and Exchange Commission changed the reporting requirements for error corrections in 2004. In the earliest days of Form 8-K disclosure requirements to alert the market to errors, adjustments started to rise to double digits while restatements surged, from 2005 to 2007. During those three years, public companies filed 1,577; then 1,859; then 1,307 restatements, respectively.
Source: Audit Analytics
Audit Analytics also distinguishes between two separate types of restatements, both of which declined in 2017. “Revision” restatements, sometimes called “big R” restatements, correct the most serious errors, which undermine reliance on previously issued reports. “Reissuance” restatements, known as “little R” restatements, correct errors that are immaterial to prior reports but material in aggregate to current reports.
From 2008, restatements began to taper off as out-of-period adjustments began rising, according to the data. Adjustments numbered 151 in 2008 and 219 in 2009, and then the numbers began to seesaw through 2015. From 2016 to 2017, total restatements fell to their lowest number, 553, while adjustments fell to their lowest number since 2013.
The data suggests “errors are being corrected before evolving into a magnitude necessitating a reissuance restatement to rectify the error,” Audit Analytics says.