In its SEC filing yesterday, UnitedHealth stated that it had "used incorrect measurement dates and made other errors...in accounting for stock option grants." The company said it had found incorrect dates for grants involving roughly 80 million shares given to top company officers, about 260 million shares granted to senior and middle management and another 50 million shares tied to hiring or promoting other employees.Amazing. Unitedhealth pays $1.13 billion to get out of its options mess, and its stock goes up three percent. In a company valued at $71.54 billion, that represents an increase in valuation of $2.15 billion.
Based on UnitedHealth's historical accounting method -- in effect until the start of 2006 -- the resulting changes in stock-based compensation lowered earnings by a total $1.13 billion.
They're getting off cheap and making money at it.