Preface to the Fifth Edition

When I started this book we had no grandchildren; today we have eight. Then (1979-1980) the Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered around 850. Today the Dow is over 8500, a multiple of 10 times in 20 years. During this period, millions of persons entered the stock market. Today a large part of retirement savings is invested in stocks. Stock values depend on information reported in financial statements, so knowing how to read a financial report is more important than ever.

This edition catches up with recent developments in financial statement accounting and financial reporting. All exhibits have been refreshed to make them easier to follow and more relevant. The exhibits in this edition are typeset from printouts from Microsoft Excel® work sheets I have prepared. To request a copy please contact me at my e-mail address: [email protected].

In this edition I have added a brief introduction to management accounting (Chapter 23) that focuses on profit reporting to business managers. An internal profit report includes sensitive and confidential information that is not divulged in a company's external financial report to its outside investors and lenders. Business entrepreneurs in particular should find this chapter a very useful addition to the book.

Otherwise, the content and basic approach of the book remain the same. As they say: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The format and focus of the book have proved very successful. Cash flow is underscored throughout the book; this is the hallmark of the book, and what distinguishes it from other books on analyzing financial statements.

Not many books like this make it to the fifth edition. It takes the joint effort of both the author and the publisher. I thank the many persons at John Wiley & Sons who have worked with me on the book over two decades. The comments and suggestions on my first draft for the book by Joe Ross, then national training director of Merrill Lynch, were extraordinarily helpful.

Again I express my deepest gratitude to the original editor of the book, Gordon Laing—for his guidance, encouragement, and friendship. Gordon gave shape to the book. His superb editing was a blessing that few authors enjoy. Gordon takes much pride in the success of the book—as well he should! Gordon, you old reprobate, I couldn't have done it without you.

JOHN A. TRACY BOULDER, COLORADO JANUARY 1999

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