Material Weakness

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DEFINITION of 'Material Weakness'

When one or more of a company's internal controls, put in place to prevent significant financial statement irregularities, is considered to be ineffective. If a deficiency in an internal control is thought to be of material weakness, this means that it could lead to a material misstatement in a company's financial statements.

BREAKING DOWN 'Material Weakness'

A material weakness, when reported by an auditor, simply suggests that a misstatement could occur. If a material weakness remains undetected and unresolved, a material misstatement could eventually occur in a company's financial statements, which would have a tangible effect on a company's valuation. For example, a $100 million overstatement in revenue would be a material misstatement for a company generating sales of $500 million annually.

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