Atlanta (June 17, 2004) -- As a by-product of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, many companies have improved the reliability of their financial forecasting over the past year, according to the twelfth annual Book of Numbers research into finance performance from The Hackett Group, a business advisory firm.

More than two-thirds of all companies polled in the research indicated that they were confident with their financial forecasting and reporting outputs, versus a scant 9 percent of those surveyed last year.

Conversely, the improved forecasting capabilities were offset somewhat as companies said that they were also struggling with SOX compliance. In a reversal of long-term trends, companies were for the most part unable to reduce their overall finance costs, and monthly closing cycles have actually extended slightly over the past two years.

Hackett's research showed that a long-term trend towards shorter closing cycles saw a reversal in 2004, with both median and world-class companies now taking more than a week to close their books each month.

-- WebCPA staff

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