What Investors Need to Know About U.S. Lease Accounting Changes

May 17, 2019, 8:08 PM

Investors might want to give those new lease accounting disclosures and balance sheet figures a second look as the dust settles on the first quarter earnings season.

New rules for how companies account for leased assets and obligations will permanently alter balance sheets—reflecting nearly $4 trillion worth of leases for planes, rail cars, storefronts, and restaurants worldwide. But the new liabilities will also distort ratios like debt-to-equity and return on assets that investors use to compare company performance over time and against competitors.

“There’s a ton of analytical consideration for investors in looking at the balance sheet, looking at the...

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