In accounting, pro forma earnings are those earnings of companies in addition to actual earnings calculated under the United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP) in their quarterly and yearly financial reports.
The pro forma accounting is a statement of the company's financial activities while excluding "unusual and nonrecurring transactions" when stating how much money the company actually made. Expenses often excluded from pro forma results include company restructuring costs, a decline in the value of the company's investments, or other accounting charges, such as adjusting the current balance sheet to fix faulty accounting practices in previous years.
Companies that report a pro forma income statement or balance sheet usually do so because the events being excluded were unusual so the US GAAP financial reports required by law are misleading to investors and potential investors. The crisis that happened this last quarter is not going to recur in future quarters, so the pro forma results can be used by investors to forecast what a "regular" quarter might portend in the future.
Critics note that pro forma numbers typically look more profitable than US GAAP numbers, and state that many companies intentionally use pro forma results in order to mislead investors into believing the company is in much better financial shape than it is; that there is no defined meaning or accounting standard for "pro forma" and that it is therefore impossible to make an "apples to apples" comparison between companies with pro forma results in the way that GAAP accounting allows; and that most "unusual events" reported as such are part of the ordinary course of business and should be reported as such. Most companies in most capitalist countries restructure themselves often, for example, so, it is argued, it is dishonest to claim that restructuring charges are unusual, one-time events that investors should not anticipate in the future.
There was a boom in the reporting of pro forma results starting in the late 1990s, with many dot-com companies using the technique to recast their losses as profits, or at least to show smaller losses than the US GAAP accounting showed. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires publicly traded companies in the United States to report US GAAP-based financial results, and has cautioned companies that using pro forma results to obscure US GAAP results would be considered fraud if used to mislead investors.
In business, pro forma financial statements are prepared in advance of a planned transaction, such as a merger, an acquisition, a new capital investment, or a change in capital structure such as incurrence of new debt or issuance of equity. The pro forma models the anticipated results of the transaction, with particular emphasis on the projected cash flows, net revenues and (for taxable entities) taxes. For example, when a transaction with a material impact on a company's financial condition is contemplated, the Finance Department will prepare, for management and Board review, a business plan containing pro forma financial statements demonstrating the expected impact of the proposed transaction on the company's financial viability. Lenders and investors will require such statements to structure or confirm compliance with debt covenants such as debt service reserve coverage and debt to equity ratios. Similarly, when a new corporation is envisioned, its founders will prepare pro forma financial statements for the information of prospective investors. Pro forma figures should be clearly labeled as such and the reason for any deviation from reported past figures clearly explained.
In trade transactions, a pro forma invoice is a document that states a commitment from the seller to sell goods to the buyer at specified prices and terms. It is used to declare the value of the trade. It is not a true invoice, because it is not used to record accounts receivable for the seller and accounts payable for the buyer. Simply, a 'Proforma Invoice' is Confirmed Purchase Order where buyer and Supplier agrees on the Product Detail and its cost (usually-Supplier currency) to be shipped to buyer. Sales quotes are prepared in the form of a pro forma invoice which is different from a commercial invoice. It is used to create a sale and is sent in advance of the commercial invoice. The content of a pro forma invoice is almost identical to a commercial invoice and is usually considered a binding agreement although the price might change in advance of the final sale.
Banks usually prefer a pro forma invoice to a quotation for establishment of a letter of credit or for advance payment by the importer through his bank.
In some countries, customs may accept a pro forma invoice (generated by the importer and not the exporter) if the required commercial invoice is not available at the time when filing entry documents at the port of entry to get goods released from customs. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for example, uses pro forma invoices to assess duty and examine goods, but the importer on record is required to post a bond and produce a commercial invoice within 120 days from the date of entry. If the required commercial invoice is needed for statistical purposes, the importer has to produce the commercial invoice within 50 days from the date Customs releases the goods to the importer.