By Michael Greener
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Additional info for Between the Lines of the Balance Sheet. The Plain Man's Guide to Published Accounts
The protagonists of this method claim that it is the only satisfactory and practicable method of keeping accounts. One is continually coming across phrases such as "the balance sheet is not a statement of current worth", as if this somehow solves all problems. In fact it begs the outstanding question. Is there any point in publishing a balance sheet which purports to be for the benefit and information of the recipient, who as shareholder is theoretically the owner, when the items on the balance sheet are in some important part wrongly valued?
The apparently prosperous companies tend to pay over about half their earnings, the remainder being ploughed back. Wimpey's, however, pay over a very small portion indeed. The actual proportions paid over are shown in the final column of Table E. Notice how companies in a weak position tend to pay out more than they earn, drawing on reserves. This is of course a state of affairs which cannot be but temporary. As a matter of interest we may take the average paid out over the four years. I. Courtaulds Imperial Tobacco Newton Chambers Lancashire Cotton Corpn.
George Wimpey Harland & Woolf William Hancock 50 49 47 64 83 13 28 Note: In the case of Harland & Woolf, as the figures in column 3 of Table D for 1962 and 1963 are a minus quantity it is difficult to give a true comparative figure. 38 BETWEEN THE LINES OF THE BALANCE SHEET The one interesting fact about Table D is the fascinating similarity between the ratios shown by the first three companies, all large and each prosperous. e. , are due to the fact that both have fallen on lean years and both for obvious reasons wish to keep up dividends.