Intangibles and Earnings
The shift from tangible to intangible investments has complicated the ability to interpret financial statements. One solution is to record intangible investments on the balance sheet and then amortize them over their useful lives. These adjustments recast profitability for some companies and are inconsequential for others. Overall, we estimate that earnings for the S&P 500 would be about 10 percent higher with these changes. This suggests great caution in comparing earnings or valuation multiples over time.