Hatfield Industries is a large manufacturing conglomerate based in the United States with annual sales in excess of $300 million. Hatfield is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for accounting irregularities and possible legal violations in the presentation of the company’s financial statements. A due diligence team from the SEC has been sent to Hatfield’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia for a complete audit in order to further assess the situation.Several unique circumstances at Hatfield are discovered by the SEC due diligence team during the course of the investigation:∙ Management has been involved in ongoing negotiations with the local labor union, of which approximately 40% of its full-time labor force are members. Labor officials are seeking increased wages and pension benefits, which Hatfield’s management states is not possible at this time due to decreased profitability and a tight cash flow situation. Labor officials have accused Hatfield’s management of manipulating the company’s financial statements to justify not granting any concessions during the course of negotiations.∙ All new equipment obtained over the past several years has been established on Hatfield’s books as operating leases, although past acquisitions of similar equipment were nearly always classified as capital leases. Financial statements of industry peers indicate that capital leases for this type of equipment are the norm. The SEC wants Hatfield’s management to provide justification for this apparent deviation from “normal” accounting practices.∙ Inventory on Hatfield’s books has been steadily increasing for the past few years in comparison to sales growth. Management credits the boost in overall production to improved operating efficiencies in its production methods. The SEC is seeking evidence that Hatfield somehow may have manipulated its inventory accounts.The SEC due diligence team is not necessarily searching for evidence of fraud but of possible manipulation of accounting standards for the purpose of misleading shareholders and other interested parties. Initial review of Hatfield’s financial statements indicates that, at a minimum, certain practices have resulted in low-quality earnings. Labor officials believe that the management of Hatfield is attempting to understate its net income to avoid making any concessions in the labor negotiations. Which of the following actions by management will most likely result in low-quality earnings?a. Lengthening the life of a depreciable asset in order to lower the depreciation expense.b. Lowering the discount rate used in the valuation of the company’s pension obligations.c. The recognition of revenue at the time of delivery rather than when payment is received.

Question

Hatfield Industries is a large manufacturing conglomerate based in the United States with annual sales in excess of $300 million.
Hatfield is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for accounting irregularities and possible legal violations in the presentation of the company’s financial statements. A due diligence team from the SEC has been sent to Hatfield’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia for a complete audit in order to further assess the situation.
Several unique circumstances at Hatfield are discovered by the SEC due diligence team during the course of the investigation:
∙ Management has been involved in ongoing negotiations with the local labor union, of which approximately 40% of its full-time labor force are members. Labor officials are seeking
increased wages and pension benefits, which Hatfield’s management states is not possible at this time due to decreased profitability and a tight cash flow situation. Labor officials have
accused Hatfield’s management of manipulating the company’s financial statements to justify not granting any concessions during the course of negotiations.
∙ All new equipment obtained over the past several years has been established on Hatfield’s books as operating leases, although past acquisitions of similar equipment were nearly always classified as capital leases. Financial statements of industry peers indicate that capital
leases for this type of equipment are the norm. The SEC wants Hatfield’s management to provide justification for this apparent deviation from “normal” accounting practices.
∙ Inventory on Hatfield’s books has been steadily increasing for the past few years in comparison to sales growth. Management credits the boost in overall production to improved
operating efficiencies in its production methods. The SEC is seeking evidence that Hatfield somehow may have manipulated its inventory accounts.
The SEC due diligence team is not necessarily searching for evidence of fraud but of possible manipulation of accounting standards for the purpose of misleading shareholders and other interested parties. Initial review of Hatfield’s financial statements indicates that, at a minimum, certain practices have resulted in low-quality earnings.


Labor officials believe that the management of Hatfield is attempting to understate its net income to avoid making any concessions in the labor negotiations. Which of the following
actions by management will most likely result in low-quality earnings?
a. Lengthening the life of a depreciable asset in order to lower the depreciation expense.
b. Lowering the discount rate used in the valuation of the company’s pension obligations.
c. The recognition of revenue at the time of delivery rather than when payment is received.

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