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时间:2023-05-25 08:09 点击次数:
  本文摘要:How much did LinkedIn make over the past three years? Sounds a simple enough question doesn’t it? But it is also one that is capable of being answered in multiple and very diverse ways.过去三年领英(LinkedIn)赚到了多少钱?这问题听得一起够非常简单,不是么?


How much did LinkedIn make over the past three years? Sounds a simple enough question doesn’t it? But it is also one that is capable of being answered in multiple and very diverse ways.过去三年领英(LinkedIn)赚到了多少钱?这问题听得一起够非常简单,不是么?然而,这也是个能以多种极为有所不同的方式问的问题。First, let’s look at the figure the US online networking site wants you to focus on. That’s a mouthful called adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda), and the total there between 2013 and 2015 came in at a positive $1.7bn.首先,让我们想到这家美国在线人脉网站期望你注目的数据。那是一个极为绕口的词:息税保险费及摊销前利润(Ebitda),2013年至2015年期间该数据的总额为17亿美元。Sounds pretty hunky dory? Well, now check out the operating profit line for the business — the one calculated according to the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) that companies must present but often don’t emphasise. Over the same period, LinkedIn racked up a $67m loss.听得一起非常不俗?那么,再行想到该企业的营运利润这栏中。

这一数字是根据美国普遍认为会计学原则(GAAP)计算出来得出结论的,企业必需获取这一数字,但往往会特别强调它。在同一时期内,领英总计袭港6700万美元亏损。What explains the yawning $1.8bn difference between those two figures? It isn’t simply the depreciation and amortisation charges the company took against the value of its assets. Those, while pretty hefty, came to just $791m. No, the biggest single reason for the negative swing was the $1bn cost of the stock LinkedIn stuffed into its employees’ pay packets over those three years.两个数字间18亿美元的极大差异该如何说明?其原因无法非常简单地指出是该公司对其资产价值的保险费和摊销所造成的。


LinkedIn is just one of a number of US tech companies that airbrush out such payments when presenting results to investors. It is part of a broader trend that has seen companies strain to put the best possible spin on their numbers, excluding inconvenient non-cash or supposedly non recurring items they claim obscure rather than elucidate the underlying performance of the business.领英只是向投资者陈述财报时掩盖这类成本的众多美国高科技企业之一。此举是更大范围趋势的一部分:企业以尽量大力的方式呈现出业绩,去除不方便的非现金项目或非经常性项目,声称这类项目模糊不清而不是解释显然的业务展现出。

Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, recently outed some of the large-cap tech groups that are the biggest payers of stock to their employees. Number one on the list was Twitter. Over the past two years the messaging platform has on average issued shares to employees with a value equivalent to 124 per cent of operating income.最近,加拿大皇家银行资本市场(RBC Capital Markets)分析师马克马哈尼(Mark Mahaney)揭发了向员工缴纳股票规模仅次于的一些低市值高科技集团。名单的中央在第一位的是Twitter。过去两年,这个即时消息平台向员工发售的股票价值平均值相等于营业利润的1.24倍。Not that you would know this when looking at the company’s earnings releases. In its recently announced first-quarter figures, Twitter reported pro forma earnings of 15 cents a share. It is only when you dig out the GAAP number the company also supplies, but does not emphasise, that the uglier reality becomes apparent: it actually lost 12 cents a share.查阅该公司公布的财报时,你是去找将近这个事实的。

在最近公布的第一季度财报数据中,Twitter附上订正盈利每股15美分。只有当你挖掘出该公司同时获取、却不特别强调的GAAP数据后,更加古怪的现实才不会浮出水面:该公司实质上每股亏损12美分。It may seem odd that companies are still engaging in this less-than-innocent deception. After all, it is hard to find a convincing argument for excluding stock compensation from earnings.企业仍在做这种过于厚道的愚弄手段,或许有点不可思议。

却是,对于把股票报酬回避在盈利数据以外的作法,很难寻找有说服力的理由。While no cash may change hands when a company issues equity to its employees, the firm denies itself the chance to sell those shares or options for value in the market. Failing to recognise that forgone cash effectively understates the cost the company has incurred in employing those individuals. That’s not only imprudent, it makes it harder to compare that business with other firms that take a more sensible approach.尽管当企业向员工发售股份时会有现金上的交易,但企业这么做到就丧失了自己在市场上出售这些股份或期权以还清价值的可能性。


没能否认这些被退出的现金,实质上高估了企业雇佣这些人的成本。这么做到某种程度是过于慎重,还令人更难将该公司与其他采行更加明智作法的公司展开较为。Tech companies are not the only offenders, of course, and stock compensation isn’t the only cost that magically vanishes when companies present non-GAAP figures. Indeed, the practice is mushrooming. According to the Analyst’s Accounting Observer, 90 per cent of the constituents in the Standard Poor’s 500 index produced non-GAAP figures last year, up from 72 per cent in 2009.当然,高科技企业并不是唯一这么做到的企业,股票报酬也不是企业获取非GAAP数据时唯一魔术般消失的成本。

的确,这类作法如雨后春笋般层出不穷。据《分析师会计学仔细观察》(Analysts Accounting Observer)讲解,标普500(SP 500)指数90%的成分股公司去年附上的数据不合乎美国普遍认为会计准则,低于2009年的72%。All sorts of costs are being vaporised as companies present their results with increasing creativity. They range from such items as preferred dividends and even severance payments to the legal and restructuring costs that Valeant, an acquisitive pharmaceutical company, notoriously deducted from its expense lines.随着企业以更加低的“创造性”展出其业绩,各种各样的成本冷却了。这些成本从优先股息和手续费,到法律和重组成本——并购意识较强的制药公司Valeant就以从支出中去除法律和重组成本而留给坏名声。

Inevitably, non-GAAP figures are diverging ever further from accounting reality. In a study of 380 SP 500 companies, the Analyst’s Accounting Observer calculated that their “adjusted” net income rose 6.6 per cent to $804bn last year. It sounds great until you discover that under GAAP precisely the opposite was happening. Net income at those same companies actually declined almost 11 per cent to $562bn — a full 30 per cent less.不可避免的是,非GAAP数据与会计学现实渐行渐远。在对380家标普500成分股企业的研究中,《分析师会计学仔细观察》计算出来得出结论,去年它们“调整后”的净利润快速增长了6.6%,超过8040亿美元。这个数字听得一起非常好,然而按照GAAP原则计算出来一下,你不会找到情况恰恰相反。同一批企业的净利润只不过下降了近11%,至5620亿美元——整整较少了30%。

Obsessed by top-line growth, shareholders seem happy to acquiesce in these practices. In the meantime, most analysts have loyally focused on adjusted numbers, perhaps feeling under pressure from company bosses to play along.纠葛于顶线快速增长的股东,或许乐意阻挠这类不道德。与此同时,多数分析师心目中地注目调整后的数字,或许是因为他们受到了来自企业老板的压力,拒绝他们因应。But these acts of self-deception carry real risks for investors. For instance, excluding the cost of stock grants can lead to inflated executive pay levels. There is also the problem of what happens when the share price falters. Then, to avoid losing its valuable employees, the company may have the unpalatable choice of either diluting investors further — or switching suddenly to cash compensation that it may struggle to afford.然而,这种自我愚弄的不道德给投资者带给感慨的风险。


到那时候,为防止有价值的员工萎缩,企业或许不会面对一个不无聊的自由选择:要么更进一步溶解投资者,要么忽然转而采行它或许无法分担的现金薪酬。While keeping it real may make for a less inspiring income statement, it does at least proof figures against this sort of unpleasant eventuality. For now investors may be content to play along with companies’ accounting fantasies. Sooner or later, however, it is an indulgence they will come to regret.尽管老实的会计学方法或许带给不那么鼓舞人心的报表,但它最少能让数字真实情况体现情况,免受上述不无聊结局。




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