By Michael Rapoport - November 13, 2017 - Dow Jones Newswires
General Electric Co. said Monday it plans to simplify the way it reports financial results, admitting it has been hurt by its own accounting complexity.
GE still plans to use its own customized metrics to gauge its financial performance, as opposed to using only measures calculated under standard accounting rules. But the company said it wants to be more transparent and will focus its reporting on more-streamlined measures that emphasize the amount of cash the company is generating.
"Simplification of metrics is going to be a huge focus going forward," Chief Executive John Flannery told investors. "Complexity has hurt us."
While many companies report their own customized measures of performance in addition to standard ones, GE is known for reporting multiple measures, stripping out various costs and adjusting for different changes and assumptions in its business -- a practice that often makes its results hard for investors to follow.
Now, GE will change its top earnings metric to "adjusted" earnings per share -- excluding gains, restructuring and nonoperating pension costs. That is a change from the company's current focus on what it calls "Industrial operating + Verticals" earnings, which excludes the pension costs but adds in the results of businesses from finance arm GE Capital that the company plans to retain after divesting most of it.
"You want this to be easier to understand and more in line with our peers," said Jamie Miller, GE's chief financial officer.
The new adjusted-EPS metric also incorporates accounting changes that will take effect in January and broadly affect how companies book revenue.
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