The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission's accelerated reporting guidelines, appear to be improving the accuracy of companies' earnings forecasts, according to a report by management consultancy Parson Consulting.The percentage of companies among the Standard & Poors 500 index that missed analysts' earnings-per-share projections by at least 10 percent fell to 29.7 percent in the 2004 third quarter - the lowest level since Parson began the quarterly study in the first quarter of 2003.

According to Parsons, the accelerated reporting deadlines and SOX - which shortened the timeframe in which companies must report their quarterly and annual earnings to the SEC, while demanding transparency and accuracy of financial information - are having a beneficial effect. This need to report more quickly is leading companies to streamline their processes and employ more sophisticated financial systems that improve the accuracy of forecasts, Parson experts say.

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