Ford to expense options
No. 2 automaker becomes the latest company to subtract the cost of the benefit against profits.
September 12, 2002: 3:30 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Ford Motor Co. Thursday became the latest company to say it will treat stock options as an expense against earnings.

Starting next year, the No. 2 automaker will bow to growing investor sentiment for more conservative accounting following a string of scandals that helped push stocks to five-year lows in July.

"Expensing stock options will not represent a significant cost to us," Allan Gilmour, Ford's vice chairman and chief financial officer, said in a statement. "We have adopted this accounting change in an effort to further enhance the clarity of our financial statements."

Stock option grants would have cost Ford about $150 million, or 8 cents a share, in 2001, when the company lost 44 cents a share. Ford employees currently hold options to purchase more than 172 million shares of Ford common stock, the company said.

The company did not estimate what the move could cost next year, when Ford is expected to earn 77 cents a share, according to First Call.

Ford (F: Research, Estimates) joins General Motors (GM: Research, Estimates), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM: Research, Estimates) and Boeing (BA: Research, Estimates) among a growing list of companies saying they will now consider the perquisite as a cost against earnings.

Stock options give company employees the right to purchase shares below the current market value.

Amid a wave of corporate scandals at WorldCom, Enron and Adelphia Communications, calls have grown from the likes of Warren Buffett and Alan Greenspan for revealing the cost of these options.

But critics contend that there's no simple way to value them.

"There is no good valuation model to determine the fair value of unexercised employee stock options," Andy Bryant, the CFO of Intel, said last month. "Including an unreliable estimate of the fair value of options in the income statement would distort earnings."

Intel (INTC: Research, Estimates) has said it won't treat its options as expense.  Top of page

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