"Rather than develop a strategy to drive sustainable working capital improvements, these companies play the same games each year, trying to pretty up their balance sheets to impress analysts and investors," said REL Principal Michael Rellihan. "But like a rubber band stretched too far, they snap right back, and by the end of Q1 these companies are worse off than when they started. Their bad business practices may make them look good in the short-term, but they have a negative impact on the long-term bottom line."REL's research also offered recommendations for how companies can avoid the trap of year-end gamesmanship and instead focus on sustainable working capital improvements. REL recommended that senior leadership make it clear that short-term practices designed to improve working capital performance will no longer be tolerated, and use an audit committee to monitor and track performance. Working capital management should be made a continuous process. Compensation structures should be realigned so that sales staff are rewarded based on the profitability of their sales, and not just the revenue they generate. Finally, rolling targets should be used for working capital metrics, to discourage short-term thinking and encourage sustainable improvements. Readers can download the research, with free registration, at this link: http://www.relconsultancy.com/research/2012/earnings-game/. About REL REL, a division of The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: HCKT), is a world-leading consulting firm dedicated to delivering sustainable cash flow improvement from working capital and across business operations. REL’s tailored working capital management solutions balance client trade-offs between working capital, operating costs, service performance and risk. REL’s expertise has helped clients free up billions of dollars in cash, creating the financial freedom to fund acquisitions, product development, debt reduction and share buy-back programs. In-depth process expertise, analytical rigor and collaborative client relationships enable REL to deliver an exceptional return on investment in a short timeframe. REL has delivered work in over 60 countries for Fortune 500 and global Fortune 500 companies. More information on REL is available: by phone at (770) 225-7300; by e-mail at email@example.com; or on the Web at www.relconsultancy.com.