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December 12, 2002
A Rough Business
The front page of today's Wall St. Journal featured a long story on just exactly how Bristol-Meyers Squibb cooked their books to make sales and earnings appear better. They're in the middle of restating a couple of years worth of financial results, so the article was timely. I haven't been able to see all of it yet (told you I was busy!) but what I've seen makes interesting - and disturbing - reading.
BMS had promised the Street 12% sales growth a year for five years - in the face of some patent expirations - and this unkeepable promise led them to try whatever they could think of to make the numbers. And it seems to have been made clear to managers that you made your numbers or they found someone who could. . .so they made them. By hand, from whatever materials came their way. . .
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