Why accountants cant compute earnings per share?

The latest company to get the computation of earnings per share wrong is the last to list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, but it is not the only one that has accountants and auditors that cannot compute earnings per share properly. The other most recent listing got it terribly wrong, not only did this happen for the interim accounts, most likely produced internally but the audited report had the wrong computation as well.

Dr. Karlene McDonnough – Chairman of Image Consultants Ltd.

The correct computation of earnings per share is so critical, with investors using it to value shares of companies. A wrong calculation can result in distorted valuation by investors placed on a stock and it only needs to be in the marketplace for a few days for enormous potential damage to be done.
The Jamaica Stock Exchange in publishing reports with woefully inaccurate earnings per share figures should place a bold note with the release of the results that there is an error in the EPS so that all investors can be aware of it upfront. This approach is recommended rather than waiting for the company to re-compute it as the release of profits is also of much import to the market. this will require a different approach by the JSE than the current practice.
Image Plus Consultants which was listed just over a week ago reported a strong increase in revenues and profits but spoilt it by reporting excessively overstated earnings per share as they used the incorrect number of shares in the computation. Rather than 29 cents per share for the quarter and $1.84, it reported the computation is 2.3 cents and 15 cents for the nine months. One on One Education did the same thing for both their audited accounts and the first quarter results, both of which were corrected this past week after it was in the public domain for several days before the revision. This publication has been critical of the boards of both companies. The latest error shows the lack of experience on behalf of the board members as well as their accountant and the stock exchange must share the blame as well.

Ricardo Allen CEO of One to One

It is one thing for a company to get the computation wrong, it is an entirely different issue for auditors to do the same. The problem is that on too many occasions this error is cropping up and the situation seems to get worse as the Junior Market listings grow.
Stock splits or stock bonuses do not result in averaging shares issued. All that is needed in such cases is to use the new number of shares in computing EPS and all past periods are to be adjusted likewise. Only when new shares are issued for a consideration of value that the time weighted average number of shares would be used.
We have written on more than one occasion that investors in Jamaica are not properly protected, the above errors are just some of the matters that need to be addressed, but like the Stocks and Securities issue and others similar, those in authority fail to move with alacrity in correcting the fault.

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