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Could Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. Be a Millionaire Maker Stock?

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 9:34am

The simple answer is yes, Freeport-McMoRan could be a millionaire maker stock... but there's a lot of risk that goes along with that


Better Buy: Himax Technologies (HIMX) vs. Qualcomm (QCOM)

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 9:16am

Will the Taiwanese underdog outperform the world’s top mobile chipmaker again?


Best Dividend Stock Picks

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 8:02am

Dividend-paying companies such as Artis Real Estate Investment Trust and Granite Real Estate Investment Trust can help grow your portfolio income through their sizeable dividend payouts. Great dividend payers createRead More...


Why the Deadly 2018 Flu Season Could Get Even Worse

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 7:56am

Why the Deadly 2018 Flu Season Could Get Even Worse


Why Wal-Mart Is Closing 63 Sam's Club Stores

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 7:27am

Despite criticism, closing the stores makes sense.


FedEx CEO on tax bill: I’m sure we will be doing a lot of things as a result

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 7:13am

During an exclusive interview on “Varney & Co.” FedEx CEO Fred Smith said the GOP tax bill will increase capex spending.


The 1 Chart You Need to Decide When to Take Social Security Benefits

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 6:45am

Don't miss out on thousands of dollars by claiming benefits at the wrong time!


3 Serious Problems With the 4% Retirement Rule

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 6:36am

The 4% rule has long been the standard as far as retirement plan withdrawals go. But it certainly isn't perfect.


Bitcoin headed to $100,000 in 2018, says analyst who predicted last year's price rise

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 6:15am

Kay Van-Petersen, an analyst at Saxo Bank, said in December 2016 that bitcoin would reach $2,000 in 2017, a feat achieved in May.


Netflix says it's 'still exploring' the possibility of launching on the Nintendo Switch (NFLX, NTDOY)

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 4:52am

Not all hope is lost for Nintendo fans eager to watch their favorite Netflix show on their new Switch video game console. The website contacted the firm in response to a tweet in which Netflix's official customer-support account answered a fan account's question about Netflix coming to the Switch. Back in November, Nintendo and Hulu reached a deal to launch the platform in the US, and the Japanese firm is also said to be in talks with "a range of other companies" like Amazon and, yes, Netflix, to thicken the popular device's portfolio of streaming platforms.


BP Takes $1.7 Billion Charge on Deepwater Horizon Claims Closure

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 2:43am

BP Plc expects to book a post-tax non-operating charge of about $1.7 billion in its fourth-quarter results, reflecting the remaining losses and claims from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.


2019 Jeep Cherokee revealed | All-new engine, refreshing new face

Top Finance News - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:01am

Far less polarizing than before.


2017 Audit Committee Round-Up: Focal Points, Tools & Resources

U.S. Assurance Publications - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:00am


Matters ranging from anticipated disclosures to heightened audit committee responsibilities abound as we round up developments in corporate governance and financial reporting this year. 2018 promises to be a year of "firsts" for adoption of significant accounting and auditing standards; contemplation of new COSO and cybersecurity risk management frameworks; and U.S. tax reform impacts. Couple these with continued emphasis on reporting transparency along with disruptors and opportunities arising from evolving technologies and analytical capabilities, there is a full plate to digest. Learn how each of these may impact public and private companies and their audit committees for the foreseeable future. 
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PCAOB Issues Staff Guidance for Changes to the Auditor’s Report

U.S. Assurance Publications - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:00am

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Summary The PCAOB has issued Staff Guidance related to Auditing Standard 3101 that will help both firms and audit committees as required changes to auditor reporting are implemented this audit cycle for audits of fiscal years ending on or after December 15, 2017.
  Details On December 4, 2017 the PCAOB issued Staff Guidance, Changes To The Auditor’s Report Effective For Audits Of Fiscal Years Ending On Or After December 15, 2017 (Staff Guidance), to help audit firms in implement changes to the auditor’s report under AS 3101, The Auditor’s Report on an Audit of Financial Statements When the Auditor Expresses an Unqualified Opinion. This Staff Guidance was subsequently updated as of December 28, 2017. The Staff Guidance covers key changes to the auditor’s report that are effective this year, including changes relating to the disclosure of auditor tenure, a statement on auditor independence, and a required explanatory paragraph on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting (ICFR) in certain circumstances. The Guidance also provides a high-level overview of the requirements relating to Critical Audit Matters (CAMs).
  Key Changes to the Auditor’s Report for Current Audit Cycle: Form of Auditor’s Report The new standard requires that the Opinion on the Financial Statements section be the first section, immediately followed by the Basis for Opinion Section. Additionally, section titles have been added to the auditor’s report to guide the reader. Appropriate section titles are to be included for explanatory and emphasis paragraphs, such as when a going concern explanatory paragraph is included within the auditor’s report.
Addressee The new standard requires that the auditor’s report be addressed to the shareholders and the board of directors, or equivalents for companies not organized as corporations. The Staff Guidance includes the following examples of addressees for companies not organized as corporations:
  1. The plan administrator and plan participants for benefit plans;
  2. The directors (or equivalent) and equity owners for broker dealers; or
  3. The trustees and unit holders or other investors for investment companies organized as trusts.
  Auditors can assess, based on the individual circumstances, whether or not to voluntarily include additional addressees in the auditor’s report.   Auditor Independence The new standard requires a statement in the Basis for Opinion section that the auditor is a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB (United States) and is required to be independent with respect to the company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the SEC and the PCAOB.
Auditor Tenure The new standard requires a statement in the auditor’s report containing the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the company’s auditor. The disclosure of tenure should reflect the entire relationship between the company and the auditor, taking into account firm or company mergers, acquisitions, or changes in ownership structures. For example, when a company acquires another company, if the acquirer’s current auditor continues serving as the combined company’s auditor, auditor tenure would continue. However, if the acquired company’s auditor is selected to serve as the combined company’s auditor, auditor tenure would begin at that time. Auditor tenure is not affected by the Company’s status as a public company. If a company went public and maintained the same auditor, auditor tenure will include the years before and after the company became subject to SEC reporting requirements.

The Staff Guidance states that in determining the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the Company’s auditor, the auditor will look to the year when the firm signs an initial engagement letter to audit a company’s financial statements or when the firm begins performing audit procedures, whichever is earlier. The Staff Guidance provides the following examples on determining auditor tenure:
  1. If the auditor signs the engagement letter in January 2012 to audit a company’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2012, and the auditor’s report is dated February 28, 2013, the auditor would state 2012 as the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the company’s auditor.
  2. If the auditor signs the engagement letter in December 2011 to audit a company’s financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2010, 2011, and 2012, the auditor would state 2011 as the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the company’s auditor.
  3. If the auditor signs the engagement letter in January 2013 to audit a company’s financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2010, 2011, and 2012, the auditor would state 2013 as the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the company’s auditor.
  If auditors cannot readily determine when an initial engagement letter was signed, they can determine tenure based on their own records, the company’s records, or publicly available information, such as company filings available on the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (“EDGAR”) system.
  In the absence of other evidence about when the auditor signed an initial engagement letter or began performing audit procedures, tenure can be determined based on the year in which the auditor first issued an audit report on the company’s financial statements or, if earlier, the auditor’s estimate of when work would have commenced to enable the issuance of such report.
If there is uncertainty as to the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the company’s auditor, the auditor should state that the auditor is uncertain and provide the earliest year of which the auditor has knowledge. The Staff Guidance provides the following example of such a statement:
We are uncertain as to the year we [or our predecessor firms] began serving consecutively as the auditor of the Company’s financial statements; however, we are aware that we [or our predecessor firms] have been Company X’s auditor [or Company X’s auditor subsequent to the Company’s merger] consecutively since at least 19XX.
For an investment company that is part of a group of investment companies, the new standard requires that the auditor’s statement regarding tenure will contain the year the auditor began serving consecutively as the auditor of any investment company in the group. The Staff Guidance provides the following example to illustrate this:   If Firm A has been auditing investment companies in XYZ group of investment companies since 1980, the current auditor’s report for XYZ fixed income fund, whose inception date was in 2010, will state that Firm A has served as the auditor of one or more XYZ investment companies since 1980.
  Auditor Reporting Regarding ICFR In certain circumstances, management is required to report on the Company’s ICFR, but such report is not required to be audited. In such cases, the auditor is required to include explanatory language to that effect in the Basis for Opinion section. The annotated example included in the Staff Guidance illustrates this presentation by adding the following explanatory language:
The Company is not required to have, nor were we engaged to perform, an audit of its internal control over financial reporting. As part of our audits we are required to obtain an understanding of internal control over financial reporting but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we express no such opinion.   Additionally, the requirements for auditor reporting on management reports on ICFR have been updated to conform to the new standard. Updated examples are included in AS 2201, An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting That is Integrated with An Audit of Financial Statements, as amended.
  Explanatory and Emphasis Paragraphs As noted above, explanatory language is to be added when management is required to report on ICFR, but an audit of ICFR is not performed, representing a key change to the list of circumstances in which explanatory language is required. The Staff Guidance also explains that if an audit report includes an emphasis of matter paragraph, an appropriate section title is to be used.
  Information About Certain Audit Participants If the auditor voluntarily decides to provide information about certain audit participants that is required to be reported on PCAOB Form AP, Auditor Reporting of Certain Audit Participants, the auditor should include an appropriate section title.
  Note: PCAOB AS 1301, Communications with Audit Committees, now requires engagement teams to provide to and discuss with the audit committee a draft of the auditor’s report prior to issuance.   Key Changes to the Auditor’s Report for Future Audit Cycles: The Staff Guidance addresses the following key change to the auditor’s report effective for audits of fiscal years ending on or after June 30, 2019 (for large accelerated filers) and December 15, 2020 (for all other filers):
  Critical Audit Matters The Staff Guidance provides an overview of requirements to disclose Critical Audit Matters (CAMs) and reminds auditors that CAMs may be included voluntarily before the effective date or for entities for which the requirements do not apply.
  Note: Communication of CAMs is not required for audits of emerging growth companies; brokers and dealers; investment companies other than business development companies; and employee stock purchase, savings, and similar plans.
  Next Steps: Refer to BDO’s infographic available within the BDO Center for Corporate Governance and Financial Reporting. BDO intends to continue to provide external thought leadership and training opportunities as they are developed.
  Furthermore, audit committees, particularly accelerated filers, are encouraged to begin proactively discussing with their auditors and management matters that could potentially be considered CAMs in advance of when those provisions of the standard become effective.
 
For more information, please contact one of the following practice leaders: 
  Jan Herringer
National Assurance Partner   Amy Rojik
National Assurance Partner

Highly Anticipated Income Tax Withholding Tables Released - Refinements to Follow

Tax Publications - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:00am
Summary
  1. Early release of withholding tables to reflect changes made by tax reform legislation last month (increase in standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions, changes in tax rates and brackets).
  2. New withholding tables should be implemented as soon as possible, but no later than February 15, 2018.
  3. 2017 and earlier Form W-4s should be used to calculate withholding until employee files a 2018 Form W-4 (not yet available) that will more accurately reflect the new law changes.    
  4. Employer must reduce the employee’s actual wages by the amount specified in the guidance for the pay period times each exemption on the employee’s  Form W-4.
  5. Flat rate for withholding on an employee’s supplemental wages is 22 percent for supplemental wages up to $1 million during a calendar year, and 37 percent on such wages above $1 million.
  6. Backup withholding rate is 24 percent.
  Discussion The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made a number of changes for 2018 that affect individual taxpayers (i.e., increase in the standard deduction, repeal of personal exemptions, and changes in tax rates and brackets). 

On January 11, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service released Notice 1036, which provides updated withholding information for 2018 that reflects changes made by the new tax law.

Withholding taxes are designed to be approximately equal to an individual’s tax liability for the year.  The 2018 revisions to the Percentage Method Tables are aimed at avoiding over- and under-withholding on employee wages.  Employers should implement the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than February 15, 2018.  In the meantime, employers should continue using the 2017 withholding tables.

In an attempt to reduce the burden on employers and their employees, the new withholding tables work with the Forms W-4 that employers already have on file for existing employees.  Employers should not collect new Forms W-4 from existing employees at this time and should continue to use the 2017 Form W-4 for new hires until a revised form is available.  The IRS is working on a revised Form W-4 for use by new hires and existing employees who wish to update their withholding in response to the new law or changes to their personal circumstances in 2018.
 
Notice 1036 also provides the new flat rates that may be applied to supplemental wages.   Upon the elimination of the 25 percent tax rate effective 2018, many employers processing prior year bonuses were uncertain about the correct withholding rate to use for supplemental wages. According to the Notice, employers using the optional flat rate method must withhold 22 percent of the supplemental wages paid to an employee during a calendar year (up to $1 million); and 37 percent on supplemental wages in excess of $1 million.

The rate for backup withholding when the payee fails to furnish a correct taxpayer identification number is 24 percent. 
 
For more information, please contact one of the following practice leaders:
  Joan Vines
Managing Director   Carlisle Toppin
Managing Director   Paul Cheung
Managing Director   Thomas LeClair
Senior Manager

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 teased with 700+ HP in video

Top Finance News - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:47pm

Look out, Hellcat.


Bill Clinton denies accusation foundation paid for Chelsea’s wedding

Top Finance News - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 8:25pm

Washington Times opinion editor Charlie Hurt on the accusation that the Clinton Foundation paid for Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea’s, wedding and the FBI’s investigation into the Uranium One deal.


King children criticize Trump, decry racism on MLK holiday

Top Finance News - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 8:06pm

Two of Martin Luther King Jr.'s children and the pastor of his historic Atlanta church marked the national King holiday Monday with sharp denunciations of President Donald Trump, focusing on disparaging ...


Air India to Be Split Up and Sold Off

Top Finance News - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 8:00pm

Jan.15 -- India will break up its debt-burdened flag carrier into four separate companies and offer to sell at least 51 percent in each of them as part of a disinvestment proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Bloomberg's Kyunghee Park reports on "Bloomberg Daybreak Asia."


New Study Links Price Manipulation to Bitcoin's Insane Surge

Top Finance News - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 5:27pm

Is it possible that suspicious activity from just one person could have caused a 566% surge in the price of bitcoin? Well, according to a new study published in the Journal of Monetary Economics, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."


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