Companies backdating options
Backdating allows executives to choose a past date when the market price was particularly low, thereby inflating the value of the options.An example illustrates the potential benefit of backdating to the recipient.In comparison, had the options been granted at the year-end price when the decision to grant to options actually might have been made, the year-end intrinsic value would have been zero.Backdating does not violate shareholder-approved option plans.The graph below shows the dramatic effect of this new requirement on the lag between the grant and filing dates.To the extent that companies comply with this new regulation, backdating should be greatly curbed.
Instead, she decided to risk criminal prosecution by blowing the whistle.The Wall Street Journal (see discussion of article below) pointed out a CEO option grant dated October 1998.The number of shares subject to option was 250,000 and the exercise price was (the trough in the stock price graph below.) Given a year-end price of , the intrinsic value of the options at the end of the year was (-) x 250,000 = ,750,000.Most shareholder approved option plans prohibit in-the-money option grants (and thus, backdating to create in-the-money grants) by requiring that option exercise prices must be no less than the fair market value of the stock on the date when the grant decision is made. For example, because backdating is used to choose a grant date with a lower price than on the actual decision date, the options are effectively in-the-money on the decision date, and the reported earnings should be reduced for the fiscal year of the grant.(Under APB 25, the accounting rule that was in effect until 2005, firms did not have to expense options at all unless they were in-the-money.