Fitch Ratings predicts that 2009 will be a pivotal year for accounting, particularly in terms of fair value measurement and standards convergence.

The credit-ratings service has published a report on the global outlook for accounting and financial reporting this year. One major issue it predicts will be going-concern evaluations. As companies prepare their annual financial statements, a pressing question is how best to justify a going-concern basis, given the doubts some have about their ability to refinance. Impairment of debt investments and the lack of clear-cut rules on the subject have pitted some issuers against their auditors, the report noted.

The business combination standard may also add volatility to an acquirer's income statement as U.S. generally accepted accounting principles converge with International Financial Reporting Standards. Fitch also expects new accounting rules on special purpose entities to bring many off-balance-sheet entities back onto U.S. companies' balance sheets.

"Outside the U.S., new segment reporting under IFRS will need to be explained well if analysts are to understand the financial performance of a company given everything else that is happening," said Fitch managing director Bridget Gandy. A positive development for analysts and investors is that disclosures are set to improve on multiple fronts. Fitch expects disclosures on credit derivatives, fair value and off-balance-sheet entities to become more meaningful, particularly in the U.S.

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