20 Examples Of Corporate Doublespeak You Need To Know During Earnings Season

citizen kane

We’re all pretty used to business-speak these days, whereby real meanings are coded into vague euphemisms in order to sound better.

It’s all part of business spin.

Forecasts aren’t reduced, they’re adjusted.

Workers aren’t laid off, they’re right-sized.

Here’s a list of 20 business euphemisms and what they really mean.  According to the firm that compiled them, Audit Integrity, the more you hear, the more likely a company is a governance risk.

Translation: Serious fundamental problems.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Management is unable to grow the company organically.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Management is ignoring long-term sustainability in favour of short-term gain.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The CEO controls the Board.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Risk issues and/or control issues were actually documented by regulators. Possibly the tip of an iceberg.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The company overpaid for acquisitions.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Too much power is centered in one position (see No. 3 previously).

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The company is relying on financial engineering to mask a weak condition.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Management had to rectify a mistake.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The company is taking on excessive risk.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Management boosted the share price via a buy-back rather than improving operations.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The company is over-stating revenues.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Organic growth slowed, or merger is not accretive.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Financial engineering is being used to obfuscate the company's actual fundamentals.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The company is putting off current expenses to pretty-up earnings.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Current expenses are understated.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Current and future pension expenses are understated.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: The company is getting ready to write down inventory and whack Cost of Goods Sold.

Source: Audit Integrity

Translation: Subjectively-valued assets are waiting to be written off.

Source: Audit Integrity

Other times there's no hiding the truth...

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