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Consider the following thoughts of a manager at the end of the company’s third quarter: If I can increase my reported profit by $2 million, the actual earnings per share will exceed analysts’ expectations, and stock prices will increase. The stock options that I am holding will become more valuable. The extra income will also make me eligible to receive a significant bonus. With a son headed to college, it would be good if I could cash in some of these options to help pay his expenses. However, my vice president of finance indicates that such an increase is unlikely. The projected profit for the fourth quarter will just about meet the expected earnings per share. There may be ways, though, that I can achieve the desired outcome. First, I can instruct all divisional managers that their preventive maintenance budgets are reduced by 25 percent for the fourth quarter. That should reduce maintenance expenses by approximately $1 million. Second, I can increase the estimated life of the existing equipment, producing a reduction of depreciation by another $500,000. Third, I can reduce the salary increases for those being promoted by 50 percent. And that should easily put us over the needed increase of $2 million. Required: Comment on the ethical content of the earnings management being considered by the manager. Is there an ethical dilemma? What is the right choice for the manager to make? Is there any way to redesign the accounting reporting system to discourage the type of behavior the manager is contemplating?

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Cornerstones of Cost Management (C...

4th Edition
Don R. Hansen + 1 other
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781305970663

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Section
BuyFindarrow_forward

Cornerstones of Cost Management (C...

4th Edition
Don R. Hansen + 1 other
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781305970663
Chapter 1, Problem 4E
Textbook Problem
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Consider the following thoughts of a manager at the end of the company’s third quarter:

If I can increase my reported profit by $2 million, the actual earnings per share will exceed analysts’ expectations, and stock prices will increase. The stock options that I am holding will become more valuable. The extra income will also make me eligible to receive a significant bonus. With a son headed to college, it would be good if I could cash in some of these options to help pay his expenses. However, my vice president of finance indicates that such an increase is unlikely. The projected profit for the fourth quarter will just about meet the expected earnings per share. There may be ways, though, that I can achieve the desired outcome. First, I can instruct all divisional managers that their preventive maintenance budgets are reduced by 25 percent for the fourth quarter. That should reduce maintenance expenses by approximately $1 million. Second, I can increase the estimated life of the existing equipment, producing a reduction of depreciation by another $500,000. Third, I can reduce the salary increases for those being promoted by 50 percent. And that should easily put us over the needed increase of $2 million.

Required:

Comment on the ethical content of the earnings management being considered by the manager. Is there an ethical dilemma? What is the right choice for the manager to make? Is there any way to redesign the accounting reporting system to discourage the type of behavior the manager is contemplating?

To determine

Comment on the ethical content of the earnings management being considered by the manager, identify the ethical dilemma, state the right choice for the manager and explain if there is any way to redesign the accounting reporting system.

Explanation of Solution

Principles of personal ethical behavior: Principles of personal ethical behavior includes concern for the well-being of others, trustworthiness and honesty, respect for others, doing good, fairness and preventing harm to others.

The manager is evidently considering unethical behaviours, especially the decisions related with reduction in “maintenance and promotional salaries”. Increasing life of asset for the purpose of depreciation is not having clear ethical consequences. Reducing maintenance might not hurt in the period of short-run however; it will have long-run negative financial implications. Additionally, the decision regarding promotions is made with a given set of “financial expectations”, and decrease in salary increases by 50% for deserving employees is noticeably partial to them...

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