Accounting Change May Uncover Hidden Debt

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) along with the International Accounting Standards Board recently proposed a change in the requirements to accounting for corporate leases, effectively treating them as a form of on-balance sheet debt. Corporate leases on items ranging from real estate to equipment are currently held off the balance sheet, which potentially understates overall leverage if the leases are not added to long-term debt and other balance sheet items. Worldwide leasing activity is more than $640mm according to World Leasing Yearbook 2010. While a decision is not expected to be made until 2014, we are encouraged by this development as transparency will be increased. As part of our own credit analysis process, we have always added back capital leases to calculate overall debt levels, but this potential improvement is undoubtedly a credit positive.