Accounting Cushion

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Accounting Cushion'

The overstatement of a company's expense provision, in order to create a cushion for future results. A company can use this to artificially understate income in the current period by overstating liability or allowance accounts. This will give the company the ability to overstate income in a later period. An accounting cushion can be achieved by increasing allowances for bad debts in the current period, without any indication that bad debts will actually rise. This would understate accounts receivable in the current period, and the company could make up for it in the next period by overstating accounts receivable. This is a method of income smoothing, and if discovered an auditor or analyst should adjust these back to their proper levels.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Accounting Cushion'

You may be wondering why any company would want to understate income in any period. The reason is that some company's are expected to be very stable, and investors buy their stocks for that reason. Investors may expect company ABC to grow at 4% every period. If the company instead grows 6% in the first period, and declines 1% in the second, it would be bad for the perception of the stock. Investors may require a higher risk premium, therefore driving down the value of the stock. Management would rather understate the 6% growth and overstate income in the second period to smooth out the income. This may seem less harmful then some other, but misleads the investing public about the true stability of a company's income stream.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Income Smoothing

    The use of accounting techniques to level out net income fluctuations ...
  2. Debt

    An amount of money borrowed by one party from another. Many corporations/individuals ...
  3. Risk Premium

    The return in excess of the risk-free rate of return that an ...
  4. Cash Discount

    An incentive that a seller offers to a buyer in return for paying ...
  5. Accounts Receivable - AR

    Money owed by customers (individuals or corporations) to another ...
  6. Liability

    A company's legal debts or obligations that arise during the ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How is accounting in the United States different from international accounting?

    Despite major efforts by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, and the International Accounting Standards Board, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the variance/covariance matrix or parametric method in Value at Risk (VaR)?

    The parametric method, also known as the variance-covariance method, is a risk management technique for calculating the value ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How are transfer prices set?

    The United States, like most nations, does not want to allow transfer pricing methods that reduce the amount of taxes the ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is backtesting in Value at Risk (VaR)?

    The value at risk is a statistical risk management technique that monitors and quantifies the risk level associated with ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I discount Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF)?

    Discounted free cash flow for the firm (FCFF) should be equal to all of the cash inflows and outflows, adjusted to present ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What's the difference between a confidence level and a confidence interval in Value ...

    The value at risk (VaR) uses both the confidence level and confidence interval. A risk manager uses the VaR to monitor and ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Markets

    Material Adverse Effect A Warning Sign For Stocks

    Learn what this phrase means and how to spot it in a company's financial statements.
  2. Investing Basics

    The Importance Of Corporate Transparency

    Clear and honest financial statements not only reflect value, they also help ensure it.
  3. Fundamental Analysis

    Financial Footnotes: Start Reading The Fine Print

    Find out what could be hidden in this often-overlooked part of the financial statements.
  4. Active Trading Fundamentals

    Evaluating A Company's Management

    Financial statements don't tell you everything about a company's health. Investigate the management behind the numbers!
  5. Options & Futures

    An Investor's Checklist To Financial Footnotes

    Footnotes to the financial statements contain very important information, but reading them takes skill.
  6. Economics

    Understanding Carrying Value

    Carrying value is the value of an asset as listed on a company’s balance sheet. Carrying value is the same as book value.
  7. Economics

    International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)

    International Financial Reporting Standards are accounting rules and guidelines governing the reporting of different types of accounting transactions.
  8. Economics

    Explaining Property, Plant and Equipment

    Property, plant and equipment are company assets that are vital to business operations, but not easily liquidated.
  9. Economics

    How to Calculate Trailing 12 Months Income

    Trailing 12 months refers to the most recently completed one-year period of a company’s financial performance.
  10. Economics

    What is Unearned Revenue?

    Unearned revenue can be thought of as a "pre-payment" for goods or services which a person or company is expected to produce to the purchaser.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Fixed-Income Arbitrage

    An investment strategy that attempts to profit from arbitrage opportunities in interest rate securities. When using a fixed-income ...
  2. Venture-Capital-Backed IPO

    The selling to the public of shares in a company that has previously been funded primarily by private investors. The alternative ...
  3. Merger Arbitrage

    A hedge fund strategy in which the stocks of two merging companies are simultaneously bought and sold to create a riskless ...
  4. Market Failure

    An economic term that encompasses a situation where, in any given market, the quantity of a product demanded by consumers ...
  5. Unsystematic Risk

    Company or industry specific risk that is inherent in each investment. The amount of unsystematic risk can be reduced through ...
  6. Security Market Line - SML

    A line that graphs the systematic, or market, risk versus return of the whole market at a certain time and shows all risky ...
Trading Center