Ethics Case 21-7 Where’s the cash?

Ethics Case 21-7 Where’s the cash?
After graduating near the
top of his class, Ben Naegle was hired by the local office of a Big 4
CPA firm in his hometown. Two years later, impressed with his technical
skills and experience, Park Electronics, a large regional consumer
electronics chain, hired Ben as assistant controller. This was last
week. Now Ben’s initial excitement has turned to distress.
The
cause of Ben’s distress is the set of financial statements he’s stared
at for the last four hours. For some time prior to his recruitment, he
had been aware of the long trend of moderate profitability of his new
employer. The reports on his desk confirm the slight, but steady,
improvements in net income in recent years. The trend he was just now
becoming aware of, though, was the decline in cash flows from
operations.
Ben had sketched out the following comparison ($ in millions):
2011 2010 2009 2008
Income from Operations $140.0 $132.0 $127.5 $127.0
Net Income 38.5 35.0 34.5 29.5
Cash Flow from Operations 1.6 17.0 12.0 15.5
Profits?
Yes. Increasing profits? Yes. The cause of his distress? The ominous
trend in cash flow which is consistently lower than net income.
Upon closer review, Ben noticed three events in the last two years that, unfortunately, seemed related:
a. Park’s credit policy had been loosened; credit terms were relaxed and payment periods were lengthened.
b. Accounts receivable balances had increased dramatically.
c.
Several of the company’s compensation arrangements, including that of
the controller and the company president, were based on reported net
income.
Required:
1. What is so ominous about the combination of events Ben sees?
2. What course of action, if any, should Ben take?

 

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