Lok Housing made the following disclosure [link] during the just concluded quarter:
"The global economy in general and the real estate industry in particular is passing through recessionary scenario, which has resulted in to financial melt down of un-precedential scale. From time to time the Company had entered several agreements for sale of plots, properties, development rights and constructed units held by it as stock in trade. In accordance with the consistently followed accounting policy of the Company, sales revenue and profit thereon were recognised at the time of entering in to such agreements to sell. Due to the financial melt down and Severe economic recession, some of the parties with whom the Company had entered in to agreement to sell have failed to meet their commitments and considering the overall interest of the Company, the agreement for sale entered in to in the past financial years and in respect of which revenues already recognized have been mutually terminated / cancelled. The Company has been legally advised that though the agreements for cancellation of sales have been entered in to during this quarter (being October to December 2008), but since cancellation of sales pertains to sales recognised earlier, the financial statements of the period during which sales and profits were recognised needs re-construction / amendment, on the doctrine of "Relation back". The Company shall amend the financial statements of earlier years and get the same approved in the next general body meeting. Accordingly no effect in respect of cancellation of sale agreements has been given in the financial statements of this quarter. During the quarter under review the Company has entered in to 53 agreements for cancellation of sales made in the earlier financial years, the sale value of which is Rs 282.14 crores and the resulting loss / reversal of profit recognized earlier being Rs 225.01 crores" (This is all of what Lok Housing earned in the last three years!)
Are financial shenanigans at play here??...and the worst part is accounting policies in India seem to allow it happily. It's about time, accounting of sales for real estate companies is changed. You simply cannot allow companies to book sales in their income statements purely on the basis of a purchase/sale agreement with the real cash coming in after a few months/years and in case of companies like Lok Housing, NEVER!
Update: I have a detailed article on this on Dr.Ajay Shah's blog [link]