Tuesday 24 April 2012

Maths blunder wipes £170m off SuperGroup shares

A routine audit last week revealed a series of forecasting and accounting errors. The most basic error was the insertion of a 'plus' rather than a 'minus' into the fashion retailer’s company accounts, which contributed to its third profit warning since October.
The news wiped around £170m off the company's value as shares plummeted 38% to 351.8p in trading on 20 April.
Thinking positively, the person responsible should perhaps be thankful that the UK financial environment is relatively benign in that, apart from the impact on the share price, no personal retribution need be expected.….
Other geographies can be less tolerant...
For instance, in the early years following the fall of the Berlin Wall, a marketing director pal working in Moscow, issued a new trade discount structure at 0900, realised during coffee break he had inadvertently approved an arithmetical error that would cost some key distributors (with strong family ties in the ‘toe’ of Italy) significant sums before a correction would kick in…..
The company immediately despatched cars to his apartment and kindergarten to pick up his wife and child, and all three were on a flight out of Moscow by early afternoon….

KAM Moral: If you make a mistake in the numbers, be the first to discover, admit and have an appropriate correction plan ready.. You are already first at Square Two, take advantage of it…
In other words, get used to approximating ‘in your head’ and develop the ability to spot figures that do not add up (remember that manual skill that allowed you to graduate from kindergarten?), and always keep your car-keys in your pocket, just-in-case….  

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