My Pro Forma Life

Xerox has agreed to restate several years’ worth of its financials and pay a record-shattering $10 million penalty. Meanwhile, the SEC now seems likely to go after Qwest. Months after Enron, in other words, accounting scandals flourish. But while others may criticize, and seek restrictions on, the clever ways that public companies have found to polish up reality on a quarterly basis, I choose to embrace those practices. Consider “Pro forma results.” Pro forma literally means “for the sake of form,” but the Wall Street Journal sheds light on what the phrase means to corporations in America when it explains that “a growing number present their earnings on a ‘pro forma’ basis, ‘as if’ certain expenses didn’t exist.” This is not a scandalous idea; it’s a delightful one.

On a pro forma basis, I’m having an outstanding year. In calendar 2002 I’ve gone to the gym on a regular basis and expect this trend to continue and to have a material impact on my health going forward. Year-to-date, my health has improved by a solid 15 percent on an annualized basis.

These results do not reflect certain items. Loss of good health and potential mortality stemming from 62 consecutive quarters of above-plan intake of assorted spirits, tobacco, and other substances reliant on mouth-to-lung delivery systems, and miscellaneous off-book chemical and pharmaceutical substances, are addressed in a one-time write-down. Results also include the application of “good will” regarding those days, and in some cases weeks, when actual gym attendance was negatively impacted or curtailed by visits to the racetrack, where I ate oysters and drank Budweiser. Finally, a recent post-workout lunch of a 22-ounce, bone-in rib steak at Smith & Wollensky and three shots of bourbon is treated here as a non-recurring expense. I’ll never do that again! I encourage you to focus on these pro forma results as a truer portrait of the state of my health than “traditional measures,” which suggest that I have been dead for at least a year.

In an unrelated one-time charge, pro forma results do not include a restatement of costs associated with the acquisition during the last calendar year of a “ SlamMan computerized boxing workout partner. My revised forecast includes no expectation that previously anticipated benefits to cardiovascular function or muscle tone will materialize in the foreseeable future, apart from those that may result from transporting SlamMan, ideally by aerial means, from my second-floor office to the sidewalk. However, there is a current lack of visibility regarding the timing of that event.

Next I’d like to address the “work” portion of my life. Again, results are gangbusters, pro forma-wise, and are in line with recent guidance. Basically, I’ve never been so productive, and all key internal efficiency metrics are through the roof.

These work results include certain items not recognized by traditional standards of accounting for what it is I do all day. Hours and full days previously recognized as losses due to apparently “wasted” time have been recategorized. In some cases (staring off into space, quietly weeping with the office door closed), these activities now count toward “research and development,” and their cost will be depreciated over a span of 79 years. This adjustment recognizes a shift in market conditions (and a recent rise in the number of years that have elapsed since my birth) affecting the time horizon for an anticipated “big success.” The 79-year time frame assumes that I will continue working, productively, until I am 112 years old. (See health results above.) I remain confident that the market is undervaluing my “work” and that additional, carefully targeted R&D efforts (including a “guerrilla” rebranding campaign conducted aggressively at parties, bars, and other gathering points of key “influentials,” such as various editors who tend not to return my phone calls) over the course of that revised time frame will stoke demand and help unlock this hidden value.

The remaining “wasted time” losses have been recategorized as unrealized, non-cash gains, associated with the anticipated completion, at an undetermined time, of a comic novel on the theme of procrastination, which certain indicators suggest should have massive upside potential. Current regulations offer little guidance and give much leeway in placing a value on contracts for books that have not been written, pitched, or even mentioned to an agent. This is a relief because I have a feeling that strict oversight might have discouraged me.

That brings me to the final item on the agenda: my love life. I remain in a long-term relationship with a significant other, and as in prior quarters, my love grows and grows.

To address some concerns regarding transparency in this area, I wish to disclose at this time that I have in recent years, as a hedge against the volatile nature of love, entered into approximately 913 discrete partnerships with entities. A number of these relationships were formed “off-shore” in the Caribbean, where they are less taxing to maintain. The details are complex (see footnotes), but each of my “special purpose entities” (as I like to call them) is distinct. Extensive measures have been taken to prevent their recognition by my significant other and our pro forma relationship.

Some of these ventures may be categorized as high risk, and indeed I am currently in the process of unwinding a number of them, as quickly as I possibly can. If everything works out, the impact on affection flow and the day-to-day operations of my love life (and indeed my health) should be immaterial. Knock wood.

In summary, then, everything is great, and the future is full of limitless possibilities. However, please note that some of the statements made by me in this report are forward-looking in nature, and actual results may differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements. On the other hand, these pro forma results have been reviewed and certified by my longtime accountant, so there’s probably nothing to worry about.