Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Revisions are a part of life, and they are part of corporate financial filings too. Calcbench respects that, and we have a feature in our databases to let you see when companies revise their numbers.

Just to be clear, we aren’t talking about material restatements of financial data—you know, the ones that get CFOs fired and give investors heartburn. Today we’re talking about small revisions of reported numbers, which you can identify using our Highlight Revised Facts feature.

The Revised Facts feature is available on the upper left-hand side of our Company-in-Detail page. Basically, you can view any company’s filings on that page, and you’ll see a tab saying “Highlight Revised Facts” with a number in parentheses after it. If revised facts are there to see, you can click on that tab and those facts will appear as—wait for it—highlighted text. If the filing has no revised facts, the number in parentheses will be zero and you won’t be able to activate the tab.

To illustrate what we mean, consider Alliance Data Systems. We pulled up its 2015 balance sheet and then used the Highlight Revised Facts feature, in Figure 1 below circled in red.

As you can see, ADS revised a lot of facts on its 2015 balance sheet. For any of those highlighted numbers, you can also see a small plus sign immediately to the right of the number. Click on that, and you can see the revision history: original amount reported, then the revised amount and date of revision.

That deferred tax liability of $631.5 million, for example—we can see that the original number, reported on Feb. 25, was $631.51 million. ADS then revised that amount downward by $10,000 in May. Or net intangible assets, now worth $1,203,700,000; we can see that the original amount, reported on Feb. 25, was $45,000 greater. (See Figure 2 for the intangibles example, below.)

Companies can have revised facts on any financial statement. The Highlight Revised Facts tab will always appear for every statement you see, so you can always confirm whether any facts have been changed.

Remember One Thing

One important caveat: the Highlight Revised Facts feature only works when another feature, the Point in Time, is turned off. You can see the Point in Time setting at the top of your displayed results. (In Figure 1, above, Point in Time is circled in blue.)

The Point in Time feature is turned off by default, which therefore means the Highlight Revised Facts is also turned on by default. When Point in Time is off, you see the most current numbers available—hence the need to see which of those numbers have been revised after the original filing was made.

You can turn on the Point in Time feature, too. Then you see the numbers originally reported in whatever filing you are looking at, and only those numbers. Any subsequent revisions aren’t shown, and hence the Highlight Revised Facts feature will shift to zero.

If you need some practice to understand both features fully, just try toggling back and forth between Point in Time from “on” to “off,” and watch how the Revised Facts tab changes.

Then you can burrow into a filer’s errors and corrections as much as you need.

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