More than 900 companies have used accelerated vesting schedules to avoid an estimated $8 billion in costs, according to a Bear Stearns report issued last week.

Beginning with their 2006 fiscal year, companies will be required to subtract the cost of stock options from profits as employees attain the right to cash in their options, a process known as "vesting" that normally stretches over four years. Since Bear Stearns released its January report, more than 150 companies have accelerated their options vesting -- essentially wiping the options off the books before the new accounting rule goes into effect.

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