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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Codification of Staff Accounting Bulletins

Topic 4: Equity Accounts

  1. Subordinated Debt
  2. S Corporations
  3. Change In Capital Structure
  4. Earnings Per Share Computations In An Initial Public Offering
  5. Receivables From Sale Of Stock
  6. Limited Partnerships
  7. Notes And Other Receivables From Affiliates

A. Subordinated Debt

Facts: Company E proposes to include in its registration statement a balance sheet showing its subordinate debt as a portion of stockholders’ equity.

Question: Is this presentation appropriate?

Interpretive Response: Subordinated debt may not be included in the stockholders’ equity section of the balance sheet. Any presentation describing such debt as a component of stockholders’ equity must be eliminated. Furthermore, any caption representing the combination of stockholders’ equity and only subordinated debts must be deleted.

B. S Corporations

Facts: An S corporation has undistributed earnings on the date its S election is terminated.

Question: How should such earnings be reflected in the financial statements?

Interpretive Response: Such earnings must be included in the financial statements as additional paid-in capital. This assumes a constructive distribution to the owners followed by a contribution to the capital of the corporation.

C. Change In Capital Structure

Facts: A capital structure change to a stock dividend, stock split or reverse split occurs after the date of the latest reported balance sheet but before the release of the financial statements or the effective date of the registration statement, whichever is later.

Question: What effect must be given to such a change?

Interpretive Response: Such changes in the capital structure must be given retroactive effect in the balance sheet. An appropriately cross-referenced note should disclose the retroactive treatment, explain the change made and state the date the change became effective.

D. Earnings Per Share Computations In An Initial Public Offering

Facts: A registration statement is filed in connection with an initial public offering (IPO) of common stock. During the periods covered by income statements that are included in the registration statement or in the subsequent period prior to the effective date of the IPO, the registrant issued for nominal consideration1 common stock, options or warrants to purchase common stock or other potentially dilutive instruments (collectively, referred to hereafter as “nominal issuances”).

Prior to the effective date of FASB ASC Topic 260, Earnings Per Share, the staff believed that certain stock and warrants2 should be treated as outstanding for all reporting periods in the same manner as shares issued in a stock split or a recapitalization effected contemporaneously with the IPO. The dilutive effect of such stock and warrants could be measured using the treasury stock method.

Question 1: Does the staff continue to believe that such treatment for stock and warrants would be appropriate upon adoption of FASB ASC Topic 260?

Interpretive Response: Generally, no. Historical EPS should be prepared and presented in conformity with FASB ASC Topic 260.

In applying the requirements of FASB ASC Topic 260, the staff believes that nominal issuances are recapitalizations in substance. In computing basic EPS for the periods covered by income statements included in the registration statement and in subsequent filings with the SEC, nominal issuances of common stock should be reflected in a manner similar to a stock split or stock dividend for which retroactive treatment is required by FASB ASC paragraph 260-10-55-12. In computing diluted EPS for such periods, nominal issuances of common stock and potential common stock3 should be reflected in a manner similar to a stock split or stock dividend.

Registrants are reminded that disclosure about materially dilutive issuances is required outside the financial statements. Item 506 of Regulation S-K requires presentation of the dilutive effects of those issuances on net tangible book value. The effects of dilutive issuances on the registrant’s liquidity, capital resources and results of operations should be addressed in Management’s Discussion and Analysis.

Question 2: Does reflecting nominal issuances as outstanding for all historical periods in the computation of earnings per share alter the registrant’s responsibility to determine whether compensation expense must be recognized for such issuances to employees?

Interpretive Response: No. Registrants must follow GAAP in determining whether the recognition of compensation expense for any issuances of equity instruments to employees is necessary.4 Reflecting nominal issuances as outstanding for all historical periods in the computation of earnings per share does not alter that existing responsibility under GAAP.

E. Receivables From Sale Of Stock

Facts: Capital stock is sometimes issued to officers or other employees before the cash payment is received.

Question: How should the receivables from the officers or other employees be presented in the balance sheet?

Interpretive Response: The amount recorded as a receivable should be presented in the balance sheet as a deduction from stockholders’ equity. This is generally consistent with Rule 5-02.30 of Regulation S-X which states that accounts or notes receivable arising from transactions involving the registrant’s capital stock should be presented as deductions from stockholders’ equity and not as assets.

It should be noted generally that all amounts receivable from officers and directors resulting from sales of stock or from other transactions (other than expense advances or sales on normal trade terms) should be separately stated in the balance sheet irrespective of whether such amounts may be shown as assets or are required to be reported as deductions from stockholders’ equity.

The staff will not suggest that a receivable from an officer or director be deducted from stockholders’ equity if the receivable was paid in cash prior to the publication of the financial statements and the payment date is stated in a note to the financial statements. However, the staff would consider the subsequent return of such cash payment to the officer or director to be part of a scheme or plan to evade the registration or reporting requirements of the securities laws.

F. Limited Partnerships

Facts: There exist a number of publicly held partnerships having one or more corporate or individual general partners and a relatively larger number of limited partners. There are no specific requirements or guidelines relating to the presentation of the partnership equity accounts in the financial statements. In addition, there are many approaches to the parallel problem of relating the results of operations to the two classes of partnership equity interests.

Question: How should the financial statements of limited partnerships be presented so that the two ownership classes can readily determine their relative participations in both the net assets of the partnership and in the results of its operations?

Interpretive Response: The equity section of a partnership balance sheet should distinguish between amounts ascribed to each ownership class. The equity attributed to the general partners should be stated separately from the equity of the limited partners, and changes in the number of equity units authorized and outstanding should be shown for each ownership class. A statement of changes in partnership equity for each ownership class should be furnished for each period for which an income statement is included.

The income statements of partnerships should be presented in a manner which clearly shows the aggregate amount of net income (loss) allocated to the general partners and the aggregate amount allocated to the limited partners. The statement of income should also state the results of operations on a per unit basis.

G. Notes And Other Receivables From Affiliates

Facts: The balance sheet of a corporate general partner is often presented in a registration statement. Frequently, the balance sheet of the general partner discloses that it holds notes or other receivables from a parent or another affiliate. Often the notes or other receivables were created in order to meet the “substantial assets” test which the Internal Revenue Service utilizes in applying its “Safe Harbor” doctrine in the classification of organizations for income tax purposes.

Question: How should such notes and other receivables be reported in the balance sheet of the general partner?

Interpretive Response: While these notes and other receivables evidencing a promise to contribute capital are often legally enforceable, they seldom are actually paid. In substance, these receivables are equivalent to unpaid subscriptions receivable for capital shares which Rule 5-02.30 of Regulation S-X requires to be deducted from the dollar amount of capital shares subscribed.

The balance sheet display of these or similar items is not determined by the quality or actual value of the receivable or other asset “contributed” to the capital of the affiliated general partner, but rather by the relationship of the parties and the control inherent in that relationship. Accordingly, in these situations, the receivable must be treated as a deduction from stockholders’ equity in the balance sheet of the corporate general partner.

1 Whether a security was issued for nominal consideration should be determined based on facts and circumstances. The consideration the entity receives for the issuance should be compared to the security’s fair value to determine whether the consideration is nominal.

2 The stock and warrants encompasses by the prior guidance were those issuances of common stock at prices below the IPO price and options or warrants with exercise prices below the IPO price that were issued within a one-year period prior to the initial filing of the registration statement relating to the IPO through the registration statement’s effective date.

3 The FASB ASC Master Glossary defines potential common stock as “a security or other contract that may entitle its holder to obtain common stock during the reporting period or after the end of the reporting period.”

4 As prescribed by FASB ASC Topic 718, Compensation – Stock Compensation.



Modified: 03/09/2011