But I was struck with the forthrightness with which Gregory Hayes (now the Chief Executive Officer) discussed earnings manipulation. You can find the transcript here. To quote:
So we'll be able to deliver on the numbers that we had talked about earlier in the year, which essentially was in a range. We started out at $6.55; we're now at $6.75 to $6.85. We'll be right around $6.85 when the year is said and done. Still some puts and takes, some headwinds around currency. But top line looks solid at $65 billion; bottom line looks solid around $6.85.
I'd just point out, tax extenders is not in our numbers for the year. Who knows if we're going to get extenders here in the last couple of weeks of the year. My own view is that if we get extenders, we'll probably just restructure against that benefit or do something else, as opposed to trying to pass along another dime that's probably not going to give anybody much of a benefit. So I think we're done at $6.85.
So if President Obama signs a tax bill they won't reflect that properly in their earnings they will just take a restructuring charge so they don't need to show the earnings to you.
In other words they will create "cookie jar earnings".
Cookie jar earnings were all the rage when I got into this business. Alex Berenson even wrote a book about them. What shareholders wanted was smooth earnings growth regardless of the vagaries of economic cycles - and people created cookie jars and manipulated earnings to show precisely that.
Listening to United Technologies I felt about 15 years younger. What is old is new again.
Disclosure: No position in any mentioned stock.