Did Home Depot Invent Backdating?

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Until yesterday, it seemed that the practice of backdating stock options was something that mostly went on at tech companies during the boom years. But Home Depot now ways it was a routine practice for 19 years. Which kind of makes you wonder: is this really a scandal, or was it just a very typical corporate accounting practice meant to increase compensation without hitting the cash position of the companies?

Home Depot, the home improvement retailer, said yesterday that an internal investigation found that for 19 years the company “routinely” backdated option grants to benefit employees and had unrecorded expenses of about $200 million related to its grant practices.
The investigation found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by company managers or its board, but it discovered several errors in how the company handled option grants dating back to 1981, Home Depot said in a statement.

On a side note, we've heard that the backdating scandal has many companies so fearful that they are refusing to sign any agreements containing the words "dated as of"--regardless of whether options grants are involved.
Home Depot Backdated Many Options [Bloomberg via New York Times]

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