Companies are making different choices on how to recognize stock options on their balance sheets ahead of a new accounting rule change that goes into effect in June.
said Tuesday it will show the impact of stock-option grants to employees starting in its first-quarter financial report, scheduled to be released on April 18. IBM also plans to reduce the amount of equity compensation it grants to employees in the future.
And in another decision,
resolved to accelerate the vesting of 45 million employee stock options, all of which are currently underwater, or at a strike price higher than than the stock's current price. A company representative said it was too soon to speculate on what the company's future rate of options issuance would be.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM and Micron of Boise, Idaho, along with other companies, only have had to show the effect of stock options via an annual addendum in their 10-K reports with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
. That will change midyear, due to new rules from the Financial Accounting Standards Board -- the body that governs accounting in the U.S. -- and the SEC. All public companies will have to start reporting the impact of stock options for periods after June 15.
Mark Loughridge, the CFO of IBM, said during a conference call late Tuesday that IBM has been planning to implement the reporting change this year, but a recent clarification about the rule change from the SEC has enabled it to move forward presently.
IBM will now show the impact directly in its financial reports. In 2004, stock options and stock granted to employees would have knocked 55 cents off of the company's per-share earnings of $4.93. IBM stated that it also will restate financial results from 2004 in order to provide like-for-like comparisons.
Loughridge said IBM is cutting its options issuance to mitigate a $1 billion-a-year impact to its pension plans. "We are focused on total compensation costs: salary, cash, equity and health and retirement benefits," he said. "We're rebalancing that for all levels, increasing cash and reducing equity."
Micron stated in a press release that it accelerated the vesting of the options "to avoid recognizing future compensation expense associated with these options." The semiconductor company pegged that possible expense at $100 million. Micron's current stock price is $10.26, and the options had strike prices between $12 and $44.90, with a weighted average price of $14.08.
"From an employee perspective, the high exercise price didn't hold as much retentive value and would have resulted in some compensation expense to the company," said Micron spokeswoman Trudy Sullivan, who said the company does not anticipate its employees getting hit with a tax bill for the newly vested options.
She said that the roughly 4 million options that were not accelerated had strike prices of $12 and lower.