I'm all for non-GAAP accounting when it's justified. For example, NVIDIA
But then there's the other kind of pro forma adjustment where companies seems to pick and choose whatever items they want to exclude just so they can look good in the earnings spotlight. Enter language-learning expert Rosetta Stone
First of all, Rosetta Stone wants us to forget about stock-based compensation expenses. Fair enough -- everybody else is doing it so why can't Rosetta? I'm not so forgiving about the "IPO-related compensation" -- yes, the IPO was a one-time event, but if you handed out stock-based bonuses around that time, why not own up to the costs thereof?
Oh, but here's the real beauty: "GAAP net loss and non-GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2010 both include $3.6 million, or $0.11 per share, of expenses associated with the launch of Version 4 TOTALe. Excluding the launch expenses, non-GAAP net income per share was $0.12."
I'm sorry, but launch expenses for a new product certainly qualify as a regular cost of doing business. I'm backing that baby back in, thank you very much.
All told, Rosetta's sales fell 9% year over year despite that much-vaunted new product launch, and the non-GAAP earnings I'm willing to accept dove to $0.01 per share from $0.29 per share a year ago. Rosetta Stone fell more than 10% on the news and deserved every ounce of that pain.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. NVIDIA and Rosetta Stone are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.