Fraud Files: When 'Immaterial' Errors Hide Real Problems

When companies use the word "immaterial" to describe errors or irregularities in their previously reported numbers, what they're trying to say is that their mistakes involved such small amounts that they don't really matter. Too often, though, that's not really the case.

BP Expects Gulf Compensation Claims Below $20 Billion

Oil giant BP (BP) believes that compensation claims related to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster will be less than the $20 billion the company set aside to meet the claims, CEO Bob Dudley told analysts. Dudley said "that given the current estimates of claims, the $20 billion Independent Claims (ICF), that BP established probably exceeds calls," Citigroup analysts wrote in a research note.

Beware of Wall Street Analysts' Rosy Views

Analysts eagerly paint rosy pictures of the companies they cover, and their current crop of earnings estimates are no exception. Predictions are for a record 2011 for the S&P 500. But smart investors should brace themselves for market mayhem when that optimistic scenario falls short.

Will 2011 Earnings Set Records? Don't Bet On It

The irrational despondence that set in during the grips of the downturn is now giving way to an unfounded exuberance. The most concrete signal that Wall Street is again looking at the world through rose-colored glasses: Analysts expect S&P 500 companies to rack up record earnings increases next year.

TD Ameritrade Misses Amid Slower Trading

TD Ameritrade reported earnings below expectations, largely due to declining trade income and a low interest rate environment. The company recorded profits of 23 cents per share, down from 31 cents per share, a year earlier.