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Extraordinary items – C.A.R.P.

(CA’s rash printout) How many times have we written in these pages ?and heard conference speakers going on about the perils of spreadsheets? ?Obviously not often enough.

Computer Associates – a company that should be big enough to look after ?itself – issued a results statement on 16 April with a chart showing that ?it had diluted operating earnings of 40 cents per share.

Except that it hadn’t. A revised statement issued on 4 May said that the ?real figure was 60% lower, at 16 cents.

Our colleagues at spotted a report in The New York Times which ?claimed that the mistake arose when someone who prepared the chart for the ?first CA statement inserted the wrong number from a spreadsheet.

What’s most dismaying is that it seems to have taken almost three weeks ?for the error to be spotted and corrected. Can you blame us if our faith ?in Wall Street analysts, the efficient markets hypothesis and the earnest ?diligence of US-style CFOs has taken a bit of a knock?

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