Tag Archives: Form 8-K

MD&A: A New Known-Trend Enforcement Case

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

 

One of the “golden rules” of MD&A we discuss in our workshops is “no surprise stock drops”. (Thanks to Brink Dickerson of Troutman Sanders for the rules!) Actually, it is OK if management is surprised with a stock drop. However, it can be problematic if management previously knew of some issue that, when disclosed, causes a surprise stock drop for investors.

 

The classic start to a known trend enforcement case is a company announcement that results in a stock price drop. On February 26, 2014, UTi, a logistics company, filed an 8-K with news of a severe liquidity problem. UTi’s shares fell to $10.74, a decline of nearly 30% from the prior day’s close of $15.26.

 

The reason this is an SEC reporting issue is this paragraph from the MD&A guidance in Regulation S-K Item 303 paragraph (a)(3)(ii):

 

Describe any known trends or uncertainties that have had or that the registrant reasonably expects will have a material favorable or unfavorable impact on net sales or revenues or income from continuing operations. If the registrant knows of events that will cause a material change in the relationship between costs and revenues (such as known future increases in costs of labor or materials or price increases or inventory adjustments), the change in the relationship shall be disclosed. (emphasis added)

 

If management knows of some sort of uncertainty that could result in a material impact if it comes to fruition, they must evaluate whether they “reasonably expect” this to happen. If they do “reasonably expect” this to happen then it should be disclosed in MD&A.

 

When there is a surprise stock drop like the one experienced by UTi, the questions the SEC Enforcement Division will ask, to borrow from another context, are “what did management know about the problem” and “when did they know it?”

 

Enforcement Release, AAER 3877 revealed that the genesis of UTi’s liquidity problem was an issue in the implementation of a new IT system that created billing problems. And, it was clear from the facts, including an internal PowerPoint presentation, that management knew they had a problem well before they filed the 8-K.

 

However, in their 10-Q for their third quarter ended October 31, 2013, which was filed in December of 2013, UTi did not disclose the liquidity problem. In fact, they said:

 

Our primary sources of liquidity include cash generated from operating activities, which is subject to seasonal fluctuations, particularly in our Freight Forwarding segment, and available funds under our various credit facilities. We typically experience increased activity associated with our peak season, generally during the second and third fiscal quarters, requiring significant disbursements on behalf of clients. During the second quarter and the first half of the third quarter, this seasonal growth in client receivables tends to consume available cash. Historically, the latter portion of the third quarter and the fourth quarter tend to generate cash recovery as cash collections usually exceed client cash disbursements.

 

They also made no mention of the implementation problems with their new IT system. They actually said:

 

Freight Forward Operating System. On September 1, 2013, we deployed our global freight forwarding operating system in the United States. As of that date, based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to operational acceptance testing and other operational milestones having been achieved, we considered it ready for its intended use. Amortization expense with respect to the system began effective September 2013, and accordingly, we recorded amortization expense related to the new application of approximately $3.3 million during the third quarter ended October 31, 2013.

 

Hence the surprise when the 8-K disclosed the problems. Both the CEO and CFO are also named in the Enforcement Release and paid penalties.

 

As mentioned above, the probability standard for disclosure is “reasonably expects”. More about this complex probability assessment in our next post!

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Form S-3 and the New Revenue Recognition Standard

The new revenue recognition standard allows for two transition methods. One is a kind of hybrid “retrospective with a cumulative effect” approach, where in the year of adoption a company records the cumulative effect and goes forward (with some significant “old GAAP” disclosures). The other is full retrospective implementation.

The full retrospective implementation comes with a lot of baggage beyond the amount of work it might require.

One question is what about the five-year summary? In Form 10-K is it necessary to retrospectively adjust the two earliest years in the five year summary along with the three years in S-X audited financial statements? The SEC staff has addressed this question and said this is not necessary. The CorpFin Financial Reporting Manual now states:

11100 REGISTRANT FINANCIAL INFORMATION

 

11100.1 Selected Financial Data

 

Question

A registrant elects to adopt the new revenue standard using the full retrospective approach. Must it apply the new revenue standard when reporting selected financial data (S-K Item 301)) for periods prior to those presented in its retroactively-adjusted financial statements?

 

Answer

No, but registrants must provide the information required by Instruction 2 to S-K Item 301 regarding comparability of the data presented.

This second question is a lot more intricate. What if a company does an S-3 after the first quarter of implementation? To set this issue up, here is a fact set:

Company year-end: December 31

Revenue Recognition Standard adoption date: January 1, 2018

Full retrospective method of adoption is used. In this method, for the 2018 Form 10-K the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 would be presented using the new revenue recognition standard.

Now assume that in 2018 (thus before the December 2018 Form 10-K is filed), the company reports for the first quarter of 2018 and files Form 10-Q on April 30, 2018. If the company then files an S-3 to raise capital on May 31, 2018, the previous Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017, would be incorporated into the Form S-3. That Form 10-K would have financial statements for 2017, 2016 and 2015. The financial statements for 2015 are the key issue here, as they would not be required in the December 31, 2018 Form 10-K. But, since they are incorporated into the S-3 and the company has adopted the new revenue recognition standard, Item 11(b) in Form S-3 will apply (emphasis added):

 

Item 11. Material Changes.

 

(a) Describe any and all material changes in the registrant’s affairs which have occurred since the end of the latest fiscal year for which certified financial statements were included in the latest annual report to security holders and which have not been described in a report on Form 10-Q (§249.308a of this chapter) or Form 8-K (§249.308 of this chapter) filed under the Exchange Act.

 

(b) Include in the prospectus, if not incorporated by reference therein from the reports filed under the Exchange Act specified in Item 12(a), a proxy or information statement filed pursuant to Section 14 of the Exchange Act, a prospectus previously filed pursuant to Rule 424(b) or (c) under the Securities Act (§230.424(b) or (c) of this chapter) or, where no prospectus is required to be filed pursuant to Rule 424(b), the prospectus included in the registration statement at effectiveness, or a Form 8-K filed during either of the two preceding years:

 

(i) information required by Rule 3-05 and Article 11 of Regulation S-X (17 CFR Part 210);

 

(ii) restated financial statements prepared in accordance with Regulation S-X if there has been a change in accounting principles or a correction in an error where such change or correction requires a material retroactive restatement of financial statements;

 

(iii) restated financial statements prepared in accordance with Regulation S-X where one or more business combinations accounted for by the pooling of interest method of accounting have been consummated subsequent to the most recent fiscal year and the acquired businesses, considered in the aggregate, are significant pursuant to Rule 11-01(b), or

 

(iv) any financial information required because of a material disposition of assets outside the normal course of business.

 

This would seem to require that the new revenue recognition standard be applied to the year ended December 31, 2015.

Not a happy outcome!

This question has come up in earlier accounting standard transitions, and the SEC Staff is clearly aware of this issue. Wes Bricker, Deputy Chief Accountant, said this in a recent speech:

“I am also aware that registrants have expressed concern about the requirement to provide restated financial statements when a Form S-3 registration statement is filed after the registrant has filed its first Form 10-Q reflecting adoption of the revenue standard. This requirement to restate the financial statements means that companies that adopt the revenue standard under a full-retrospective transition approach would be required to restate an additional year in its Form S-3 to show the effect of the new revenue standard on that earlier period.

While this issue is not specific to the new revenue standard, the pervasive impact of the new revenue standard amplifies the issue.

To this, I would observe the transition provisions in the new revenue standard reference existing GAAP, which provides for an impracticability exception to retrospective application if, for example, a company is unable to apply the requirement after making every reasonable effort to do so. OCA is available for consultation if a registrant believes that, based on its facts and circumstances, a retrospective application of the new revenue recognition standard to all periods required to be presented in a Form S-3 is impracticable.”

The actual language he refers to in the excerpt above is from ASC 250:

250 – 10 – 45 – 5

An entity shall report a change in accounting principle through retrospective application of the new accounting principle to all prior periods, unless it is impracticable to do so.

And:

Impracticability

250 – 10 – 45 – 9

It shall be deemed impracticable to apply the effects of a change in accounting principle retrospectively only if any of the following conditions exist:

  1. After making every reasonable effort to do so, the entity is unable to apply the requirement.
  2. Retrospective application requires assumptions about management’s intent in a prior period that cannot be independently substantiated.
  3. Retrospective application requires significant estimates of amounts, and it is impossible to distinguish objectively information about those estimates that both:
  4. Provides evidence of circumstances that existed on the date(s) at which those amounts would be recognized, measured, or disclosed under retrospective application
  5. Would have been available when the financial statements for that prior period were issued.

That’s where this issue is for now, and this could well be a problematic issue for any company raising capital in the year of adoption of the new revenue recognition standard!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

The Mystery of Filed versus Furnished

In our last post we explored the difference between the Annual Report to Shareholders (ARS) and the Form 10-K. The ARS, required by the proxy rules, is an example of a document that is “furnished” to shareholders and not actually “filed” with the SEC.

Just what does this mean?

Filed versus furnished is essentially a legal distinction. It does not impact how information appears on the EDGAR system (as they look the same) or other practical filing issues (as they are filed in EDGAR the same way). For example, an Item 2.02 Form 8-K is a “furnished” document, but an Item 2.01 Form 8-K is a “filed” document. To learn what is going on with this distinction, let’s explore:

  1. What is the legal difference?
  2. How to determine if a document is furnished or filed?

Filed

When a document is “filed” it is formally “filed” with the SEC to meet the disclosure requirements under the laws the SEC administers, principally the 1933 and 1934 Acts. This means a “filed” document is subject to the liability provisions of the Acts, and is the principal difference between filed versus furnished.

Furnished

When a document is furnished, generally to shareholders, it is not actually filed with the SEC under one of the Acts, (even though it may be “filed” in the EDGAR system) so it is not subject to the liability provisions of the Acts.

This liability difference can be a substantial issue. For example, it is far easier to establish scienter in a 34 Act fraud case then in a non-34 Act fraud case. Generally in a non-34 Act action, to establish scienter it must be shown that the accused deliberately set out to cause harm. In a 34 Act action, gross negligence or reckless disregard can establish scienter, a much lower level of proof.

Another difference – if something is furnished rather than filed, it cannot be incorporated by reference into later filings. In the shelf registration process this is very important as furnished documents are not incorporated by reference into the S-3 on the shelf, and hence do not expose the company to the strict liability standards of the 33 Act! And, if you do later incorporate a furnished document into a filed document, it loses its furnished status, usually not a good thing!

So, how do you tell if something is filed or furnished? When they appear on the EDGAR system they look exactly the same! As discussed earlier, it is really a legal distinction, so you go back to the legal sources, in particular, the instructions to the forms.

Here is an excerpt from the Form 8-K instructions:

  1. The information in a report furnished pursuant to Item 2.02 (Results of Operations and Financial Condition) or Item 7.01 (Regulation FD Disclosure) shall not be deemed to be “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act or otherwise subject to the liabilities of that section, unless the registrant specifically states that the information is to be considered “filed” under the Exchange Act or incorporates it by reference into a filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.

So, this legal distinction is actually spelled out in the instructions.

As a concluding thought, the most commonly encountered furnished documents are:

The Annual Report to Shareholders
Form 8-K Item 2.02
Form 8-K Item 7.01

There are others, so when in doubt, consult the instructions!

As a preview for our next topic in this discussion, check out the furnished versus filed status of the performance graph required by Regulation S-K Item 201(e). You may find that a surprise awaits!