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ExpandAS No. 1: References in Auditors’ Reports to the Standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board
ExpandAS No. 3: Audit Documentation
ExpandAS No. 4: Reporting on Whether a Previously Reported Material Weakness Continues to Exist
ExpandAS No. 5: An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting That Is Integrated with An Audit of Financial Statements
ExpandAS No. 6: Evaluating Consistency of Financial Statements
ExpandAS No. 7: Engagement Quality Review
ExpandAS No. 8: Audit Risk
ExpandAS No. 9: Audit Planning
ExpandAS No. 10: Supervision of the Audit Engagement
ExpandAS No. 11: Consideration of Materiality in Planning and Performing an Audit
ExpandAS No. 12: Identifying and Assessing Risks of Material Misstatement
ExpandAS No. 13: The Auditor's Responses to the Risks of Material Misstatement
ExpandAS No. 14: Evaluating Audit Results
ExpandAS No. 15: Audit Evidence
ExpandAS No. 16: Communications with Audit Committees
ExpandAS No. 17: Auditing Supplemental Information Accompanying Audited Financial Statements
ExpandAU Section 100 - Statements on Auditing Standards -- Introduction
ExpandAU Section 200 - The General Standards
ExpandAU Section 300 - The Standards of Field Work
ExpandAU Section 400 - The First, Second, and Third Standards of Reporting
ExpandAU Section 500 - The Fourth Standard of Reporting
CollapseAU Section 600 - Other Types of Reports
AU Section 622 - Engagements to Apply Agreed-Upon Procedures to Specified Elements, Accounts, or Items of a Financial Statement
AU Section 9622 - Engagements to Apply Agreed-Upon Procedures to Specified Elements, Accounts, or Items of a Financial Statement: Auditing Interpretations of Section 622
AU Section 623 - Special Reports
AU Section 9623 - Special Reports: Auditing Interpretations of Section 623
AU Section 625 - Reports on the Application of Accounting Principles
AU Section 634 - Letters for Underwriters and Certain Other Requesting Parties
AU Section 9634 - Letters for Underwriters and Certain Other Requesting Parties: Auditing Interpretations of Section 634
AU Section 9642 - Reporting on Internal Accounting Control: Auditing Interpretations of SAS No. 30
ExpandAU Section 700 - Special Topics
ExpandAU Section 800 - Compliance Auditing
ExpandAU Section 900 - Special Reports of the Committee on Auditing Procedures

AU Section 634

Letters for Underwriters and Certain Other Requesting Parties

(Supersedes SAS No. 49)
Source: SAS No. 72; SAS No. 76; SAS No. 86.
See section 9634 for interpretations of this section.
Effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1993, unless otherwise indicated.

Introduction

.01

This section [fn 1] provides guidance to accountants for performing and reporting on the results of engagements to issue letters for underwriters and certain other requesting parties described in and meeting the requirements of paragraph .03, .04, or .05 (commonly referred to as "comfort letters") in connection with financial statements and financial statement schedules contained in registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act) and other securities offerings. In paragraph .09, this section also provides guidance to accountants for performing and reporting on the results of engagements to issue letters for certain requesting parties, other than underwriters or other parties with a due diligence defense under section 11 of the Act, that are described in, but do not meet the requirements of, paragraph .03, .04, or .05. [As amended, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

.02

The service of accountants providing letters for underwriters developed following enactment of the Act. Section 11 of the Act provides that underwriters, among others, could be liable if any part of a registration statement contains material omissions or misstatements. The Act also provides for an affirmative defense for underwriters if it can be demonstrated that, after a reasonable investigation, the underwriter has reasonable grounds to believe that there were no material omissions or misstatements. Consequently, underwriters request accountants to assist them in developing a record of reasonable investigation. An accountant issuing a comfort letter is one of a number of procedures that may be used to establish that an underwriter has conducted a reasonable investigation.

Applicability

.03

Accountants may provide a comfort letter to underwriters, fn 2 or to other parties with a statutory due diligence defense under section 11 of the Act, in connection with financial statements and financial statement schedules included (incorporated by reference) in registration statements filed with the SEC under the Act. A comfort letter may be addressed to parties with a statutory due diligence defense under section 11 of the Act, other than a named underwriter, only when a law firm or attorney for the requesting party issues a written opinion to the accountants that states that such party has a due diligence defense under section 11 of the Act. fn 3 An attorney's letter indicating that a party "may" be deemed to be an underwriter or has liability substantially equivalent to that of an underwriter under the securities laws would not meet this requirement. If the requesting party, in a securities offering registered pursuant to the Act, other than a named underwriter (such as a selling shareholder or sales agent) cannot provide such a letter, he or she must provide the representation letter described in paragraphs .06 and .07 for the accountants to provide them with a comfort letter.

.04

Accountants may also issue a comfort letter to a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary, acting as principal or agent in an offering or a placement of securities, in connection with the following types of securities offerings:

  • Foreign offerings, including Regulation S, Eurodollar, and other offshore offerings
  • Transactions that are exempt from the registration requirements of section 5 of the Act, including those pursuant to Regulation A, Regulation D, and Rule 144A
  • Offerings of securities issued or backed by governmental, municipal, banking, tax-exempt, or other entities that are exempt from registration under the Act

In these situations the accountants may provide a comfort letter to a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary in connection with a securities offering only if the broker-dealer or other financial intermediary provides in writing the representations described in paragraphs .06 and .07.

.05

Accountants may also issue a comfort letter in connection with acquisition transactions (for example, cross-comfort letters in a typical Form S-4 or merger proxy situation) in which there is an exchange of stock and such comfort letters are requested by the buyer or seller, or both, as long as the representation letter described in paragraphs .06 and .07 is provided. An accountants' report on a preliminary investigation in connection with a proposed transaction (for example, a merger, an acquisition, or a financing) is not covered by this section; accountants should refer to the guidance in AT section 201, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements. [Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

.06

The required elements of the representation letter from a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary, or of other requesting parties described in paragraphs .03 and .05, are as follows:

  • The letter should be addressed to the accountants.
  • The letter should contain the following:

    "This review process, applied to the information relating to the issuer, is (will be) substantially consistent fn 4 with the due diligence review process that we would perform if this placement of securities (or issuance of securities in an acquisition transaction) were being registered pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act). We are knowledgeable with respect to the due diligence review process that would be performed if this placement of securities were being registered pursuant to the Act." fn 5

  • The letter should be signed by the requesting party.

.07

An example of a letter, setting forth the required elements specified in paragraph .06, from a party requesting a comfort letter follows:

[Date]

Dear ABC Accountants:

[Name of financial intermediary], as principal or agent, in the placement of [identify securities] to be issued by [name of issuer], will be reviewing certain information relating to [issuer] that will be included (incorporated by reference) in the document [if appropriate, the document should be identified], which may be delivered to investors and utilized by them as a basis for their investment decision. This review process, applied to the information relating to the issuer, is (will be) substantially consistent with the due diligence review process that we would perform if this placement of securities fn 6 were being registered pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act). We are knowledgeable with respect to the due diligence review process that would be performed if this placement of securities were being registered pursuant to the Act. We hereby request that you deliver to us a "comfort" letter concerning the financial statements of the issuer and certain statistical and other data included in the offering document. We will contact you to identify the procedures we wish you to follow and the form we wish the comfort letter to take.

Very truly yours,

[Name of Financial Intermediary]

.08

When one of the parties identified in paragraphs .03, .04, and .05 requests a comfort letter and has provided the accountants with the representation letter described above, the accountants should refer in the comfort letter to the requesting party's representations (see example P [paragraph .64]).

.09

When one of the parties identified in paragraphs .03, .04, or .05, other than an underwriter or other party with a due diligence defense under section 11 of the Act, requests a comfort letter but does not provide the representation letter described in paragraphs .06 and .07, accountants should not provide a comfort letter but may provide another form of letter. In such a letter, the accountants should not provide negative assurance on the financial statements as a whole, or on any of the specified elements, accounts, or items thereof. The other guidance in this section is applicable to performing procedures in connection with a letter and on the form of the letter (see paragraphs .36 through .43 and .54 through .60). Example Q in the Appendix [paragraph .64] provides an example of a letter issued in such a situation. Any such letter should include the following statements:

  1. It should be understood that we have no responsibility for establishing (and did not establish) the scope and nature of the procedures enumerated in the paragraphs above; rather, the procedures enumerated therein are those the requesting party asked us to perform. Accordingly, we make no representations regarding questions of legal interpretation fn 7 or regarding the sufficiency for your purposes of the procedures enumerated in the preceding paragraphs; also, such procedures would not necessarily reveal any material misstatement of the amounts or percentages listed above as set forth in the offering circular. Further, we have addressed ourselves solely to the foregoing data and make no representations regarding the adequacy of disclosures or whether any material facts have been omitted. This letter relates only to the financial statement items specified above and does not extend to any financial statement of the company taken as a whole.
  2. The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Had we performed additional procedures or had we conducted an audit or a review of the company's [give dates of any interim financial statements] consolidated financial statements in accordance with standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you.
  3. These procedures should not be taken to supplant any additional inquiries or procedures that you would undertake in your consideration of the proposed offering.
  4. This letter is solely for your information and to assist you in your inquiries in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the offering circular, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to for any other purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the offering document or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the offering document.
  5. We have no responsibility to update this letter for events and circumstances occurring after [cutoff date].

[As amended, effective for letters issued pursuant to this paragraph after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

.10

When a party other than those described in paragraphs .03, .04, or .05 requests a comfort letter, the accountants should not provide that party with a comfort letter or the letter described in paragraph .09 or example Q [paragraph .64]. The accountants may instead provide that party with a report on agreed-upon procedures and should refer to AT section 201, Agreed-Upon Procedures Engagements, for guidance. [Paragraph added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76. Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

General

.11

The services of independent accountants include audits of financial statements and financial statement schedules included (incorporated by reference) in registration statements filed with the SEC under the Act. In connection with this type of service, accountants are often called upon to confer with clients, underwriters, and their respective counsel concerning the accounting and auditing requirements of the Act and the SEC and to perform other services. One of these other services is the issuance of letters for underwriters, which generally address the subjects described in paragraph .22. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.12

Much of the uncertainty, and consequent risk of misunderstanding, with regard to the nature and scope of comfort letters has arisen from a lack of recognition of the necessarily limited nature of the comments that accountants can properly make with respect to financial information, in a registration statement or other offering document (hereafter referred to as a registration statement), that has not been audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and, accordingly, is not covered by their opinion. In requesting comfort letters, underwriters are generally seeking assistance on matters of importance to them. They wish to perform a "reasonable investigation" of financial and accounting data not "expertized" fn 8 (that is, covered by a report of independent accountants, who consent to be named as experts, based on an audit performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards) as a defense against possible claims under section 11 of the Act. fn 9 What constitutes a reasonable investigation of unaudited financial information sufficient to satisfy an underwriter's purposes has never been authoritatively established. Consequently, only the underwriter can determine what is sufficient for his or her purposes. Accountants will normally be willing to assist the underwriter, but the assistance accountants can provide by way of comfort letters is subject to limitations. One limitation is that independent accountants can properly comment in their professional capacity only on matters to which their professional expertise is substantially relevant. Another limitation is that procedures short of an audit, such as those contemplated in a comfort letter, provide the accountants with a basis for expressing, at the most, negative assurance. fn 10 Such limited procedures may bring to the accountants' attention significant matters affecting the financial information, but they do not provide assurance that the accountants will become aware of any or all significant matters that would be disclosed in an audit. Accordingly, there is necessarily a risk that the accountants may have provided negative assurance of the absence of conditions or matters that may prove to have existed. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.13

This section deals with several different kinds of matters. First, it addresses whether, in a number of areas involving professional standards, it is proper for independent accountants, acting in their professional capacity, to comment in a comfort letter on specified matters, and, if so, the form such a comment should take. Second, practical suggestions are offered on which form of comfort letter is suitable in a given circumstance, procedural matters, the dating of letters, and what steps may be taken when information that may require special mention in a letter comes to the accountants' attention. fn 11 Third, it suggests ways of reducing or avoiding the uncertainties, described in the preceding paragraph, regarding the nature and extent of accountants' responsibilities in connection with a comfort letter. Accountants who have been requested to follow a course other than what has been recommended, with regard to points not involving professional standards, would do well to consult their legal counsel. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.14

Comfort letters are not required under the Act, and copies are not filed with the SEC. It is nonetheless a common condition of an underwriting agreement in connection with the offering for sale of securities registered with the SEC under the Act that the accountants are to furnish a comfort letter. Some underwriters do not make the receipt of a comfort letter a condition of the underwriting agreement or purchase agreement (hereafter referred to as the underwriting agreement) but nevertheless ask for such a letter. fn 12 [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.15

The accountants should suggest to the underwriter that they meet together with the client to discuss the procedures to be followed in connection with a comfort letter; during this meeting, the accountants may describe procedures that are frequently followed (see the examples in the appendix [paragraph .64]). Because of the accountants' knowledge of the client, such a meeting may substantially assist the underwriter in reaching a decision about procedures to be followed by the accountants. However, any discussion of procedures should be accompanied by a clear statement that the accountants cannot furnish any assurance regarding the sufficiency of the procedures for the underwriter's purposes, and the appropriate way of expressing this is shown in paragraph 4 of example A [paragraph .64]. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.16

Because the underwriter will expect the accountants to furnish a comfort letter of a scope to be specified in the underwriting agreement, a draft of that agreement should be furnished to the accountants so that they can indicate whether they will be able to furnish a letter in acceptable form. It is desirable practice for the accountants, promptly after they have received the draft of the agreement (or have been informed that a letter covering specified matters, although not a condition of the agreement, will nonetheless be requested), to prepare a draft of the form of the letter they expect to furnish. To the extent possible, the draft should deal with all matters to be covered in the final letter and should use exactly the same terms as those to be used in the final letter (subject, of course, to the understanding that the comments in the final letter cannot be determined until the procedures underlying it have been performed). The draft letter should be identified as a draft to avoid giving the impression that the procedures described therein have been performed. This practice of furnishing a draft letter at an early point permits the accountants to make clear to the client and the underwriter what they may expect the accountants to furnish. Thus furnished with a draft letter, the underwriter is afforded the opportunity to discuss further with the accountants the procedures that the accountants have indicated they expect to follow and to request any additional procedures that the underwriter may desire. If the additional procedures pertain to matters relevant to the accountants' professional competence, the accountants would ordinarily be willing to perform them, and it is desirable for them to furnish the underwriter with an appropriately revised draft letter. The accountants may reasonably assume that the underwriter, by indicating his or her acceptance of the draft comfort letter, and subsequently, by accepting the letter in final form, considers the procedures described sufficient for his or her purposes. It is important, therefore, that the procedures fn 13 to be followed by the accountants be clearly set out in the comfort letter, in both draft and final form, so that there will be no misunderstanding about the basis on which the accountants' comments have been made and so that the underwriter can decide whether the procedures performed are sufficient for his or her purposes. For reasons explained in paragraph .12, statements or implications that the accountants are carrying out such procedures as they consider necessary should be avoided, since this may lead to misunderstanding about the responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures for the underwriter's purposes. The following is a suggested form of legend that may be placed on the draft letter for identification and explanation of its purposes and limitations.

This draft is furnished solely for the purpose of indicating the form of letter that we would expect to be able to furnish [name of underwriter] in response to their request, the matters expected to be covered in the letter, and the nature of the procedures that we would expect to carry out with respect to such matters. Based on our discussions with [name of underwriter], it is our understanding that the procedures outlined in this draft letter are those they wish us to follow. fn 14 Unless [name of underwriter] informs us otherwise, we shall assume that there are no additional procedures they wish us to follow. The text of the letter itself will depend, of course, on the results of the procedures, which we would not expect to complete until shortly before the letter is given and in no event before the cutoff date indicated therein.

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.17

Comfort letters are occasionally requested from more than one accountant (for example, in connection with registration statements to be used in the subsequent sale of shares issued in recently effected mergers and from predecessor auditors). At the earliest practicable date, the client should advise any other accountants who may be involved about any letter that may be required from them and should arrange for them to receive a draft of the underwriting agreement so that they may make arrangements at an early date for the preparation of a draft of their letter (a copy of which should be furnished to the principal accountants) and for the performance of their procedures. In addition, the underwriter may wish to meet with the other accountants for the purposes discussed in paragraph .15. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.18

There may be situations in which more than one accountant is involved in the audit of the financial statements of a business and in which the reports of more than one accountant appear in the registration statement. For example, certain significant divisions, branches, or subsidiaries may be audited by other accountants. The principal accountants (that is, those who report on the consolidated financial statements and, consequently, are asked to give a comfort letter with regard to information expressed on a consolidated basis) should read the letters of the other accountants reporting on significant units. Such letters should contain statements similar to those contained in the comfort letter prepared by the principal accountants, including statements about their independence. The principal accountants should state in their comfort letters that (a) reading letters of the other accountants was one of the procedures followed, and (b) the procedures performed by the principal accountants (other than reading the letters of the other accountants) relate solely to companies audited by the principal accountants and to the consolidated financial statements. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.19

Regulations under the Act permit companies, in certain circumstances, to register a designated amount of securities for continuous or delayed offerings during an extended period by filing one "shelf" registration statement. At the effective date of a shelf registration statement, the registrant may not have selected an underwriter (see footnote 12). A client or the legal counsel designated to represent the underwriting group might, however, ask the accountants to issue a comfort letter at the effective date of a shelf registration statement to expedite the due diligence activities of the underwriter when he or she is subsequently designated and to avoid later corrections of financial information included in an effective prospectus. However, as stated in paragraph .12, only the underwriter can determine the procedures that will be sufficient for his or her purposes. Under these circumstances, therefore, the accountants should not agree to furnish a comfort letter addressed to the client, legal counsel or a nonspecific addressee such as "any or all underwriters to be selected." The accountants may agree to furnish the client or legal counsel for the underwriting group with a draft comfort letter describing the procedures that the accountants have performed and the comments the accountants are willing to express as a result of those procedures. The draft comfort letter should include a legend, such as the following, describing the letter's purpose and limitations:

This draft describes the procedures that we have performed and represents a letter we would be prepared to sign as of the effective date of the registration statement if the managing underwriter had been chosen at that date and requested such a letter. Based on our discussions with [name of client or legal counsel], the procedures set forth are similar to those that experience indicates underwriters often request in such circumstances. The text of the final letter will depend, of course, on whether the managing underwriter who is selected requests that other procedures be performed to meet his or her needs and whether the managing underwriter requests that any of the procedures be updated to the date of issuance of the signed letter.

A signed comfort letter may be issued to the underwriter selected for the portion of the issue then being offered when the underwriting agreement for an offering is signed and on each closing date. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.20

Accountants, when issuing a letter under the guidance provided in this section, may not issue any additional letters or reports, under any other section, to the underwriter or the other requesting parties identified in paragraphs .03, .04, and .05 (hereinafter referred to as the underwriter) in connection with the offering or placement of securities, in which the accountants comment on items for which commenting is otherwise precluded by this section. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. As amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

.21

While the guidance in this section generally addresses comfort letters issued in connection with securities offerings registered pursuant to the Act, it also provides guidance on comfort letters issued in other securities transactions. However, the guidance that specifically refers to compliance of the information commented on with SEC rules and regulations, such as compliance with Regulation S-X fn 15 or S-K, fn 16 generally applies only to comfort letters issued in connection with securities offerings registered pursuant to the Act. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Guidance on the Format and Contents of Comfort Letters

.22

This section (paragraphs .22 through .62) provides guidance on the format and possible contents of a typical comfort letter. It addresses how the comfort letter should be dated, to whom it may be addressed, and the contents of the introductory paragraph of the comfort letter. Further, it addresses the subjects that may be covered in a comfort letter:

  1. The independence of the accountants (paragraphs .31 and .32)
  2. Whether the audited financial statements and financial statement schedules included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC (paragraphs .33 and .34)
  3. Unaudited financial statements, condensed interim financial information, capsule financial information, pro forma financial information, financial forecasts, management's discussion and analysis (MD&A), and changes in selected financial statement items during a period subsequent to the date and period of the latest financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement (paragraphs .29 and .35 through .53)
  4. Tables, statistics, and other financial information included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement (paragraphs .54 through .62)
  5. Negative assurance as to whether certain non-financial statement information, included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement complies as to form in all material respects with Regulation S-K (paragraph .57)

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. As amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

Dating

.23

The letter ordinarily is dated on or shortly before the effective date (that is, the date on which the registration statement becomes effective). On rare occasions, letters have been requested to be dated at or shortly before the filing date (that is, the date on which the registration statement is first filed with the SEC). The underwriting agreement ordinarily specifies the date, often referred to as the "cutoff date," to which certain procedures described in the letter are to relate (for example, a date five days before the date of the letter). The letter should state that the inquiries and other procedures described in the letter did not cover the period from the cutoff date to the date of the letter. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.24

An additional letter may also be dated at or shortly before the closing date (that is, the date on which the issuer or selling security holder delivers the securities to the underwriter in exchange for the proceeds of the offering). If more than one letter is requested, it will be necessary to carry out the specified procedures and inquiries as of the cutoff date for each letter. Although comments contained in an earlier letter may, on occasion, be incorporated by reference in a subsequent letter (see example C [paragraph .64]), any subsequent letter should relate only to information in the registration statement as most recently amended. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Addressee

.25

The letter should not be addressed or given to any parties other than the client and the named underwriters, fn 17 broker-dealer, financial intermediary or buyer or seller. The appropriate addressee is the intermediary who has negotiated the agreement with the client, and with whom the accountants will deal in discussions regarding the scope and sufficiency of the letter. When a comfort letter is furnished to other accountants, it should be addressed in accordance with the guidance in this paragraph and copies should be furnished to the principal accountants and their client. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Introductory Paragraph

.26

It is desirable to include an introductory paragraph similar to the following:

We have audited the [identify the financial statements and financial statement schedules] included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement (no. 33-00000) on Form __________ filed by the company under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act); our reports with respect thereto are also included (incorporated by reference) in that registration statement. The registration statement, as amended as of ______________, is herein referred to as the registration statement.

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.27

When the report on the audited financial statements and financial statement schedules included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement departs from the standard report, for instance, where one or more explanatory paragraphs or a paragraph to emphasize a matter regarding the financial statements have been added to the report, the accountants should refer fn 18 to that fact in the comfort letter and discuss the subject matter of the paragraph. fn 19 In those rare instances in which the SEC accepts a qualified opinion on historical financial statements, the accountants should refer to the qualification in the opening paragraph of the comfort letter and discuss the subject matter of the qualification. (See also paragraph .35f.) [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.28

The underwriter occasionally requests the accountants to repeat in the comfort letter their report on the audited financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement. Because of the special significance of the date of the accountants' report, the accountants should not repeat their opinion. fn 20 The underwriter sometimes requests negative assurance regarding the accountants' report. Because accountants have a statutory responsibility with respect to their opinion as of the effective date of a registration statement, and because the additional significance, if any, of negative assurance is unclear and such assurance may therefore give rise to misunderstanding, accountants should not give such negative assurance. Furthermore, the accountants should not give negative assurance with respect to financial statements and financial statement schedules that have been audited and are reported on in the registration statement by other accountants. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.29

The accountants may refer in the introductory paragraphs of the comfort letter to the fact that they have issued reports on— fn 21

  1. Condensed financial statements that are derived from audited financial statements (see section 552, Reporting on Condensed Financial Statements and Selected Financial Data).
  2. Selected financial data (see section 552).
  3. Interim financial information (see section 722).
  4. Pro forma financial information (see AT section 401, Reporting on Pro Forma Financial Information).
  5. A financial forecast (see AT section 301, Financial Forecasts and Projections).
  6. Management's discussion and analysis (see AT section 701, Management's Discussion and Analysis).

Such a reference should be to the accountants' reports that were previously issued, and if the reports are not included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement, they may be attached to the comfort letter. fn 22 In referring to previously issued reports, the accountants should not repeat their reports in the comfort letter or otherwise imply that they are reporting as of the date of the comfort letter or that they assume responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures for the underwriter's purposes. However, for certain information on which they have reported, the accountants may agree to comment regarding compliance with rules and regulations adopted by the SEC (see paragraphs .33 and .34). Accountants should not mention in a comfort letter reports issued in accordance with section 325, Communications About Control Deficiencies in An Audit of Financial Statements, or any restricted use reports issued to a client in connection with procedures performed on the client's internal control in accordance with AT section 501, Reporting on an Entity's Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. As amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86. Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

.30

An underwriter may also request that the accountants comment in their comfort letter on (a) unaudited interim financial information required by item 302(a) of Regulation S-K, to which section 722 pertains or (b) required supplementary information, to which section 558, Required Supplementary Information, pertains. Section 722 and section 558 provide that the accountants should expand the standard report on the audited financial statements to refer to such information when the scope of their procedures with regard to the information was restricted or when the information appears not to be presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles or, for required supplementary information, applicable guidelines. Such expansions of the accountants' standard report in the registration statement would ordinarily be referred to in the opening paragraph of the comfort letter (see also paragraph .35f). Additional comments on such unaudited information are therefore unnecessary. However, if the underwriter requests that the accountants perform procedures with regard to such information in addition to those performed in connection with their review or audit as prescribed by sections 722 and 558, the accountants may do so and report their findings. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Independence

.31

It is customary in conjunction with SEC filings for the underwriting agreement to provide for the accountants to make a statement in the letter concerning their independence. This may be done substantially as follows:

We are independent certified public accountants with respect to The Blank Company, Inc., within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC.

Regulation S-K requires disclosure in the prospectus and registration statement of interests of named experts (including independent accountants) in the registrant. Regulation S-X precludes accountants who report on financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in a registration statement from having interests of the type requiring disclosure in the prospectus or registration statement. Therefore, if the accountants make a statement in a comfort letter that they are independent within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC, any additional comments on independence would be unnecessary. fn 22a In a non-SEC filing, the accountants may refer to the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct [ET section 101]. This may be done substantially as follows:

We are independent certified public accountants with respect to The Blank Company, Inc., under rule 101 of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct and its interpretations and rulings.

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.32

When comfort letters are requested from more than one accountant (see paragraphs .17 and .18), each accountant must, of course, be sure he or she is independent within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC. The accountants for previously nonaffiliated companies recently acquired by the registrant would not be required to have been independent with respect to the company whose shares are being registered. In such a case, the accountants should modify the wording suggested in paragraph .31 and make a statement regarding their independence along the following lines.

As of [insert date of the accountants' most recent report on the financial statements of their client] and during the period covered by the financial statements on which we reported, we were independent certified public accountants with respect to [insert the name of their client] within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC.

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Compliance With SEC Requirements

.33

The accountants may be requested to express an opinion on whether the financial statements covered by their report comply as to form with the pertinent accounting requirements adopted by the SEC. fn 23 This may be done substantially as follows:

In our opinion [include phrase "except as disclosed in the registration statement," if applicable], the [identify the financial statements and financial statement schedules] audited by us and included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC. fn 24

If there is a material departure from the pertinent rules and regulations adopted by the SEC, the departure should be disclosed in the letter. fn 25 An appropriate manner of doing this is shown in example K [paragraph .64]. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.34

Accountants may provide positive assurance on compliance as to form with requirements under the rules and regulations adopted by the SEC only with respect to those rules and regulations applicable to the form and content of financial statements and financial statement schedules that they have audited. Accountants are limited to providing negative assurance on compliance as to form when the financial statements or financial statement schedules have not been audited. (For guidance in commenting on compliance as to form, see paragraph .37 regarding unaudited condensed interim financial information, paragraph .42 regarding pro forma financial information, paragraph .44 regarding a forecast, and paragraph .57 regarding Regulation S-K items. fn 26 ) [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Commenting in a Comfort Letter on Information Other Than Audited Financial Statements

General

.35

Comments included in the letter will often concern (a) unaudited condensed interim financial information (see paragraphs .36 through .38), fn 27 (b) capsule financial information (see paragraphs .36 and .39 through .41), (c) pro forma financial information (see paragraphs .42 and .43), (d) financial forecasts (see paragraphs .36 and .44), and (e) changes in capital stock, increases in long-term debt, and decreases in other specified financial statement items (see paragraphs .36 and .45 through .53). For commenting on these matters, the following guidance is important:

  1. As explained in paragraph .16, the agreed-upon procedures performed by the accountants should be set forth in the letter, except that when the accountants have been requested to provide negative assurance on interim financial information or capsule financial information, the procedures involved in an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review need not be specified (see paragraphs .37 through .41 of this section and paragraph 4 of example A [paragraph .64]).
  2. To avoid any misunderstanding about the responsibility for the sufficiency of the agreed-upon procedures for the underwriter's purposes, the accountants should not make any statements, or imply that they have applied procedures that they have determined to be necessary or sufficient for the underwriter's purposes. If the accountants state that they have performed an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review, this does not imply that those procedures are sufficient for the underwriter's purposes. The underwriter may ask the accountants to perform additional procedures. For example, if the underwriter requests the accountants to apply additional procedures and specifies items of financial information to be reviewed and the materiality level for changes in those items that would necessitate further inquiry by the accountants, the accountants may perform those procedures and should describe them in their letter. Descriptions of procedures in the comfort letter should include descriptions of the criteria specified by the underwriter.
  3. Terms of uncertain meaning (such as general review, limited review, reconcile, check, or test) should not be used in describing the work, unless the procedures comprehended by these terms are described in the comfort letter.
  4. The procedures performed with respect to interim periods may not disclose changes in capital stock, increases in long-term debt or decreases in the specified financial statement items, inconsistencies in the application of generally accepted accounting principles, instances of noncompliance as to form with accounting requirements of the SEC, or other matters about which negative assurance is requested. An appropriate manner of making this clear is shown in the last three sentences in paragraph 4 of example A [paragraph .64].
  5. Matters to be covered by the letter should be made clear in the meetings with the underwriter and should be identified in the underwriting agreement and in the draft comfort letter. Since there is no way of anticipating other matters that would be of interest to an underwriter, accountants should not make a general statement in a comfort letter that, as a result of carrying out the specified procedures, nothing else has come to their attention that would be of interest to the underwriter.
  6. When the report on the audited financial statements and financial statement schedules in the registration statement departs from the auditor's standard report, and the comfort letter includes negative assurance with respect to subsequent unaudited condensed interim financial information included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement or with respect to an absence of specified subsequent changes, increases, or decreases, the accountant should consider the effect thereon of the subject matter of the qualification, explanatory paragraph(s), or paragraph(s) emphasizing a matter regarding the financial statements. The accountant should also follow the guidance in paragraph .27. An illustration of how this type of situation may be dealt with is shown in example I [paragraph .64].

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Knowledge of Internal Control

.36

The accountants should not comment in a comfort letter on (a) unaudited condensed interim financial information, (b) capsule financial information, (c) a financial forecast when historical financial statements provide a basis for one or more significant assumptions for the forecast, or (d) changes in capital stock, increases in long-term debt and decreases in selected financial statement items, unless they have obtained knowledge of a client's internal control as it relates to the preparation of both annual and interim financial information. Knowledge of the client's internal control over financial reporting includes knowledge of the control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring. Sufficient knowledge of a client's internal control as it relates to the preparation of annual financial information ordinarily would have been acquired, and may have been acquired with respect to interim financial information, by the accountants who have audited a client's financial statements for one or more periods. When the accountants have not audited the most recent annual financial statements, and thus have not acquired sufficient knowledge of the entity's internal control, the accountants should perform procedures to obtain that knowledge. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Revised, February 1997, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 78.]

Unaudited Condensed Interim Financial Information

.37

Comments concerning the unaudited condensed interim financial information fn 28 included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement provide negative assurance as to whether (a) any material modifications should be made to the unaudited condensed interim financial information for it to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles and (b) the unaudited condensed interim financial information complies as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC. Accountants may comment in the form of negative assurance only when they have conducted a review of the interim financial information in accordance with section 722. The accountants may (a) state in the comfort letter that they have performed the procedures identified in section 722 for a review of interim financial information (see paragraphs 4a and 5a of example A [paragraph .64] or (b) if the accountants have issued a report on the review, they may mention that fact in the comfort letter. If it is mentioned in the comfort letter, the accountants should attach the review report to the letter unless the review report is already included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement. When the accountants have not conducted a review in accordance with section 722, the accountants may not comment in the form of negative assurance and are, therefore, limited to reporting procedures performed and findings obtained (see example O [paragraph .64]). [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.38

The letter should specifically identify any unaudited condensed interim financial information and should state that the accountants have not audited the condensed interim financial information in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and do not express an opinion concerning such information. An appropriate manner of making this clear is shown in paragraph 3 of example A [paragraph .64]. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Capsule Financial Information

.39

In some registration statements, the information shown in the audited financial statements or unaudited condensed interim financial information is supplemented by unaudited summarized interim information for subsequent periods (commonly called "capsule financial information"). This capsule financial information (either in narrative or tabular form) often is provided for the most recent interim period and for the corresponding period of the prior year. With regard to selected capsule financial information, the accountants—

  1. May give negative assurance with regard to conformity with generally accepted accounting principles and may refer to whether the dollar amounts were determined on a basis substantially consistent with that of the corresponding amounts in the audited financial statements if (1) the selected capsule financial information is presented in accordance with the minimum disclosure requirements of Accounting Principles Board (APB) Opinion No. 28, paragraph 30 [AC section I73.146], and (2) the accountants have performed an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review of the financial statements underlying the capsule financial information. If those conditions have not been met, the accountants are limited to reporting procedures performed and findings obtained.
  2. May give negative assurance as to whether the dollar amounts were determined on a basis substantially consistent with that of the corresponding amounts in the audited financial statements if the selected capsule financial information is more limited than the minimum disclosures described in APB Opinion 28, paragraph 30 (see example L [paragraph .64]), as long as the accountants have performed an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review of the financial statements underlying the capsule financial information. If an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review has not been performed, the accountants are limited to reporting procedures performed and findings obtained.

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.40

The underwriter occasionally asks the accountants to give negative assurance with respect to the unaudited interim financial statements or unaudited condensed interim financial information (see paragraph .37 and the interim financial information requirements of Regulation S-X) that underlie the capsule financial information and asks the accountants to state that the capsule financial information agrees with amounts set forth in such statements. Paragraphs 4b and 5b in example L [paragraph .64] provide an example of the accountants' comments in these circumstances. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.41

The underwriter might ask the accountants to give negative assurance on the unaudited condensed interim financial information, or information extracted therefrom, for a monthly period ending after the latest financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement. In those cases, the guidance in paragraph .37 is applicable. The unaudited condensed interim financial information should be attached to the comfort letter so that it is clear what financial information is being referred to; if the client requests, the unaudited condensed interim financial information may be attached only to the copy of the letter intended for the managing underwriter. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Pro Forma Financial Information

.42

Accountants should not comment in a comfort letter on pro forma financial information unless they have an appropriate level of knowledge of the accounting and financial reporting practices of the entity (or, in the case of a business combination, of a significant constituent part of the combined entity). This would ordinarily have been obtained by the accountants auditing or reviewing historical financial statements of the entity for the most recent annual or interim period for which the pro forma financial information is presented. Accountants should not give negative assurance in a comfort letter on the application of pro forma adjustments to historical amounts, the compilation of pro forma financial information, whether the pro forma financial information complies as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X or otherwise provide negative assurance with respect to pro forma financial information unless they have obtained the required knowledge described above and they have performed an audit of the annual financial statements, or an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review of the interim financial statements, of the entity (or, in the case of a business combination, of a significant constituent part of the combined entity) to which the pro forma adjustments were applied. In the case of a business combination, the historical financial statements of each constituent part of the combined entity on which the pro forma financial information is based should be audited or reviewed. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.43

If the accountants have obtained the required knowledge as described in paragraph .36, but have not met the requirements for giving negative assurance, the accountants are limited to reporting procedures performed and findings obtained. (See example O [paragraph .64].) The accountants should comply with the relevant guidance on reporting the results of agreed-upon procedures in AT section 201. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

Financial Forecasts

.44

For accountants to perform agreed-upon procedures on a financial forecast and comment thereon in a comfort letter, they should obtain the knowledge described in paragraph .36 and then perform procedures prescribed in AT section 301.69, for reporting on compilation of a forecast. Having performed these procedures, they should follow the guidance in AT section 301.18 and .19 regarding reports on compilations of prospective financial information and should attach their report fn 29 thereon to the comfort letter. fn 30 Then they can perform additional procedures and report their findings in the comfort letter (see examples E and O [paragraph .64]). Accountants may not provide negative assurance on the results of procedures performed. Further, accountants may not provide negative assurance with respect to compliance of the forecast with rule 11-03 of Regulation S-X unless they have performed an examination of the forecast in accordance with AT section 301. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

Subsequent Changes

.45

Comments regarding subsequent changes typically relate to whether there has been any change in capital stock, increase in long-term debt or decreases in other specified financial statement items during a period, known as the "change period," subsequent to the date and period of the latest financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement (see paragraph .50). These comments would also address such matters as subsequent changes in the amounts of (a) net current assets or stockholders' equity and (b) net sales and the total and per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items and of net income. The accountants ordinarily will be requested to read minutes and make inquiries of company officials relating to the whole of the change period. fn 31 For the period between the date of the latest financial statements made available and the cutoff date, the accountants must base their comments solely on the limited procedures actually performed with respect to that period (which, in most cases, will be limited to the reading of minutes and the inquiries of company officials referred to in the preceding sentence), and their comfort letter should make this clear (see paragraph 6 of example A [paragraph .64]). [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.46

If the underwriter requests negative assurance as to subsequent changes in specified financial statement items as of a date less than 135 days from the end of the most recent period for which the accountants have performed an audit or a review, the accountants may provide such negative assurance in the comfort letter. For instance—

  • When the accountants have audited the December 31, 19X6, financial statements, the accountants may provide negative assurance on increases and decreases of specified financial statement items as of any date up to May 14 (135 days subsequent to December 31).
  • When the accountants have audited the December 31, 19X6, financial statements and have also conducted an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review of the interim financial information as of and for the quarter ended March 31, 19X7, the accountants may provide negative assurance as to increases and decreases of specified financial statement items as of any date up to August 14, 19X7 (135 days subsequent to March 31).

An appropriate manner of expressing negative assurance regarding subsequent changes is shown in paragraphs 5b and 6 of example A [paragraph .64], if there has been no decrease and in example M [paragraph .64], if there has been a decrease. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.47

However, if the underwriter requests negative assurance as to subsequent changes in specified financial statement items as of a date 135 days or more subsequent to the end of the most recent period for which the accountants have performed an audit or a review, the accountants may not provide negative assurance but are limited to reporting procedures performed and findings obtained (see example O [paragraph .64]). [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.48

In order that comments on subsequent changes be unambiguous and their determination be within accountants' professional expertise, the comments should not relate to "adverse changes," since that term has not acquired any clearly understood meaning. If there has been a change in an accounting principle during the change period, the accountants should note that fact in the letter. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.49

Comments on the occurrence of changes in capital stock, increases in long-term debt, and decreases in other specified financial statement items are limited to changes, increases, or decreases not disclosed in the registration statement. Accordingly, the phrase "except for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur" should be included in the letter when it has come to the accountants' attention that a change, increase, or decrease has occurred during the change period, and the amount of such change, increase, or decrease is disclosed in the registration statement. This phrase need not be included in the letter when no changes, increases, or decreases in the specified financial statement items are disclosed in the registration statement. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.50

Change period.  In the context of a comfort letter, a decrease occurs when the amount of a financial statement item at the cutoff date or for the change period (as if financial statements had been prepared at that date and for that period) is less than the amount of the same item at a specified earlier date or for a specified earlier period. With respect to the items mentioned in paragraph .45, the term decrease means (a) any combination of changes in amounts of current assets and current liabilities that results in decreased net current assets, (b) any combination of changes in amounts of assets and liabilities that results in decreased stockholders' equity, (c) decreased net sales, and (d) any combination of changes in amounts of sales, expenses and outstanding shares that results in decreased total and per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items and of net income (including, in each instance, a greater loss or other negative amount). The change period for which the accountants give negative assurance in the comfort letter ends on the cutoff date (see paragraph .23) and ordinarily begins, for balance sheet items, immediately after the date of the latest balance sheet in the registration statement and, for income statement items, immediately after the latest period for which such items are presented in the registration statement. The comparison relates to the entire period and not to portions of that period. A decrease during one part of the period may be offset by an equal or larger increase in another part of the period; however, because there was no decrease for the period as a whole, the comfort letter would not report the decrease occurring during one part of the period (see, however, paragraph .62). [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.51

The underwriting agreement usually specifies the dates as of which, and periods for which, data at the cutoff date and data for the change period are to be compared. For balance sheet items, the comparison date is normally that of the latest balance sheet included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement (that is, immediately prior to the beginning of the change period). For income statement items, the comparison period or periods might be one or more of the following: (a) the corresponding period of the preceding year, (b) a period of corresponding length immediately preceding the change period, (c) a proportionate part of the preceding fiscal year, or (d) any other period of corresponding length chosen by the underwriter. Whether or not specified in the underwriting agreement, the date and period used in comparison should be identified in the comfort letter in both draft and final form so that there is no misunderstanding about the matters being compared and so that the underwriter can determine whether the comparison period is suitable for his or her purposes. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.52

The underwriter occasionally requests that the change period begin immediately after the date of the latest audited balance sheet (which is, ordinarily, also the closing date of the latest audited statement of income) in the registration statement, even though the registration statement includes a more recent unaudited condensed balance sheet and condensed statement of income. The use of the earlier date may defeat the underwriter's purpose, since it is possible that an increase in one of the items referred to in paragraph .45 occurring between the dates of the latest audited and unaudited balance sheets included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement might more than offset a decrease occurring after the latter date. A similar situation might arise in the comparison of income statement items. In these circumstances, the decrease occurring after the date of the latest unaudited condensed interim financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement would not be reported in the comfort letter. It is desirable for the accountants to explain the foregoing considerations to the underwriter; however, if the underwriter nonetheless requests the use of a change period or periods other than those described in paragraph .50, the accountants may use the period or periods requested. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.53

When other accountants are involved and their letters do not disclose matters that affect the negative assurance given, an appropriate manner of expressing these comments is shown in example J [paragraph .64]. When appropriate, the principal accountants may comment that there were no decreases in the consolidated financial statement items despite the possibility that decreases have been mentioned by the other accountants. In such a case, the principal accountants could make a statement that "nothing came to our attention regarding the consolidated financial statements as a result of the specified procedures (which, so far as the related company was concerned, consisted solely of reading the other accountants' letter) that caused us to believe that...." [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Tables, Statistics, and Other Financial Information

.54

The underwriting agreement sometimes calls for a comfort letter that includes comments on tables, statistics, and other financial information appearing in the registration statement. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.55

The accountants should refrain from commenting on certain matters in a comfort letter. Except as indicated in the next sentence, they should comment only with respect to information (a) that is expressed in dollars (or percentages derived from such dollar amounts) and that has been obtained from accounting records that are subject to the entity's controls over financial reporting or (b) that has been derived directly from such accounting records by analysis or computation. The accountants may also comment on quantitative information that has been obtained from an accounting record if the information is subject to the same controls over financial reporting as the dollar amounts. The accountants should not comment on matters merely because they happen to be present and are capable of reading, counting, measuring, or performing other functions that might be applicable. Examples of matters that, unless subjected to the entity's controls over financial reporting (which is not ordinarily the case), should not be commented on by the accountants include the square footage of facilities, number of employees (except as related to a given payroll period), and backlog information. fn 32 The accountants should not comment on tables, statistics, and other financial information relating to an unaudited period unless (a) they have performed an audit of the client's financial statements for a period including or immediately prior to the unaudited period or have completed an audit for a later period or (b) they have otherwise obtained knowledge of the client's internal control as provided for in paragraph .36 herein. In addition, the accountants should not comment on information subject to legal interpretation, such as beneficial share ownership. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. As amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

.56

As with comments relating to financial statement information, it is important that the procedures followed by the accountants with respect to other information be clearly set out in the comfort letter, in both draft and final form, so that there will be no misunderstanding about the basis of the comments on the information. Further, so that there will be no implication that the accountants are furnishing any assurance with respect to the sufficiency of the procedures for the underwriter's intended purpose, the comfort letter should contain a statement to this effect. An appropriate way of expressing this is shown in paragraph 10 of example F [paragraph .64] (see also paragraph .16 of this section). [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.57

Certain financial information in registration statements is included because of specific requirements of Regulation S-K. Accountants may comment as to whether this information is in conformity with the disclosure requirements of Regulation S-K if the following conditions are met:

  1. The information is derived from the accounting records subject to the entity's controls over financial reporting, or has been derived directly from such accounting records by analysis or computation.
  2. This information is capable of evaluation against reasonable criteria that have been established by the SEC.

The following are the disclosure requirements of Regulation S-K fn 33 that generally meet these conditions:

  • Item 301, "Selected Financial Data"
  • Item 302, "Supplementary Financial Information"
  • Item 402, "Executive Compensation"
  • Item 503(d), "Ratio of Earnings to Fixed Charges"

Accountants may not give positive assurance on conformity with the disclosure requirements of Regulation S-K; they are limited to giving negative assurance, since this information is not given in the form of financial statements and generally has not been audited by the accountants. Even with respect to the above-mentioned items, there may be situations in which it would be inappropriate to provide negative assurance with respect to conformity of this information with Regulation S-K because conditions (a) and (b) above have not been met. Since information relevant to Regulation S-K disclosure requirements other than those noted previously is generally not derived from the accounting records subject to the entity's controls over financial reporting, it is not appropriate for the accountants to comment on conformity of this information with Regulation S-K. The accountants' inability to comment on conformity with Regulation S-K does not preclude accountants from performing procedures and reporting findings with respect to this information. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.58

To avoid ambiguity, the specific information commented on in the letter should be identified by reference to specific captions, tables, page numbers, paragraphs, or sentences. Descriptions of the procedures followed and the findings obtained may be stated individually for each item of specific information commented on. Alternatively, if the procedures and findings are adequately described, some or all of the descriptions may be grouped or summarized, as long as the applicability of the descriptions to items in the registration statement is clear and the descriptions do not imply that the accountants assume responsibility for the adequacy of the procedures. It would also be appropriate to present a matrix listing the financial information and common procedures employed and indicating the procedures applied to the specific items. Another presentation that could be used identifies procedures performed with specified symbols and identifies items to which those procedures have been applied directly on a copy of the prospectus which is attached to the comfort letter. (See examples F, G, and H [paragraph .64]). [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.59

Comments in the comfort letter concerning tables, statistics, and other financial information included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement should be made in the form of a description of the procedures followed; the findings (ordinarily expressed in terms of agreement between items compared); and in some cases, as described below, statements with respect to the acceptability of methods of allocation used in deriving the figures commented on. Whether comments on the allocation of income or expense items between categories of sales (such as military and commercial sales) may appropriately be made will depend on the extent to which such allocation is made in, or can be derived directly by analysis or computation from, the client's accounting records. In any event, such comments, if made, should make clear that such allocations are to a substantial extent arbitrary, that the method of allocation used is not the only acceptable one, and that other acceptable methods of allocation might produce significantly different results. Furthermore, no comments should be made regarding segment information (or the appropriateness of allocations made to derive segment information) included in financial statements, since the accountants' report encompasses that information (see section 435, Segment Information). fn 34 Appropriate ways of expressing comments on tables, statistics, and other financial information are shown in examples F, G, and H [paragraph .64]. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

.60

In comments concerning tables, statistics, and other financial information, the expression "presents fairly" (or a variation of it) should not be used. That expression, when used by independent accountants, ordinarily relates to presentations of financial statements and should not be used in commenting on other types of information. Except with respect to requirements for financial statements and certain Regulation S-K items discussed in paragraph .57, the question of what constitutes appropriate information for compliance with the requirements of a particular item of the registration statement form is a matter of legal interpretation outside the competence of accountants. Consequently, the letter should state that the accountants make no representations regarding any matter of legal interpretation. Since the accountants will not be in a position to make any representations about the completeness or adequacy of disclosure or about the adequacy of the procedures followed, the letter should so state. It should point out, as well, that such procedures would not necessarily disclose material misstatements or omissions in the information to which the comments relate. An appropriate manner of expressing the comments is shown in examples F, G, and H [paragraph .64]. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Concluding Paragraph

.61

In order to avoid misunderstanding of the purpose and intended use of the comfort letter, it is desirable that the letter conclude with a paragraph along the following lines:

This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters fn 35 in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the company in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to within or without the underwriting group for any other purpose, including, but not limited to, the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the registration statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the underwriting agreement or in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement.

[Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Disclosure of Subsequently Discovered Matters

.62

Accountants who discover matters that may require mention in the final comfort letter but that are not mentioned in the draft letter that has been furnished to the underwriter, such as changes, increases, or decreases in specified items not disclosed in the registration statement (see paragraphs .45 and .49), will naturally want to discuss them with their client so that consideration can be given to whether disclosure should be made in the registration statement. If disclosure is not to be made, the accountants should inform the client that the matters will be mentioned in the comfort letter and should suggest that the underwriter be informed promptly. It is recommended that the accountants be present when the client and the underwriter discuss such matters. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Effective Date

.63

This section is effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1993. Early application of this section is encouraged. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

Appendix

Examples

.64

1. The contents of comfort letters vary, depending on the extent of the information in the registration statement and the wishes of the underwriter or other requesting party. Shelf registration statements may have several closing dates and different underwriters. Descriptions of procedures and findings regarding interim financial statements, tables, statistics, or other financial information that is incorporated by reference from previous 1934 Act filings may have to be repeated in several comfort letters. To avoid restating these descriptions in each comfort letter, accountants may initially issue the comments in a format (such as an appendix) that can be referred to in, and attached to, subsequently issued comfort letters.

Example A: Typical Comfort Letter

2. A typical comfort letter includes—

  1. A statement regarding the independence of the accountants (paragraphs .31 and .32).
  2. An opinion regarding whether the audited financial statements and financial statement schedules included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC (paragraphs .33 and .34).
  3. Negative assurance on whether—
    1. The unaudited condensed interim financial information included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement (paragraph .37) complies as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.
    2. Any material modifications should be made to the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement for them to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
  4. Negative assurance on whether, during a specified period following the date of the latest financial statements in the registration statement and prospectus, there has been any change in capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decrease in other specified financial statement items (paragraphs .45 through .53).

Example A is a letter covering all these items. Letters that cover some of the items may be developed by omitting inapplicable portions of example A.

Example A assumes the following circumstances. fn 1 The prospectus (part I of the registration statement) includes audited consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and audited consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5. Part I also includes an unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, reviewed in accordance with section 722 but not previously reported on by the accountants. Part II of the registration statement includes audited consolidated financial statement schedules for the three years ended December 31, 19X5. The cutoff date is June 23, 19X6, and the letter is dated June 28, 19X6. The effective date is June 28, 19X6.

Each of the comments in the letter is in response to a requirement of the underwriting agreement. For purposes of example A, the income statement items of the current interim period are to be compared with those of the corresponding period of the preceding year.

June 28, 19X6

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We have audited the consolidated balance sheets of The Blank Company, Inc. (the company) and subsidiaries as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and the consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5, and the related financial statement schedules all included in the registration statement (no. 33-00000) on Form S-1 filed by the company under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act); our reports with respect thereto are also included in that registration statement. The registration statement, as amended on June 28, 19X6, is herein referred to as the registration statement. fn 2

In connection with the registration statement—

1.    We are independent certified public accountants with respect to the company within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC.

2.    In our opinion [include the phrase "except as disclosed in the registration statement," if applicable], the consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedules audited by us and included in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

3.    We have not audited any financial statements of the company as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5; although we have conducted an audit for the year ended December 31, 19X5, the purpose (and therefore the scope) of the audit was to enable us to express our opinion on the consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the financial statements for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement, or on the financial position, results of operations, or cash flows as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5.

4.    For purposes of this letter we have read the 19X6 minutes of meetings of the stockholders, the board of directors, and [include other appropriate committees, if any] of the company and its subsidiaries as set forth in the minute books at June 23, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 3 through that date were set forth therein; we have carried out other procedures to June 23, 19X6, as follows (our work did not extend to the period from June 24, 19X6, to June 28, 19X6, inclusive):

a.    With respect to the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, we have—

(i) Performed the procedures specified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for a review of interim financial information as described in SAS No. 71, Interim Financial Information, on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement.
(ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in a(i) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

b.    With respect to the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, we have—

(i) Read the unaudited consolidated financial statements fn 4 of the company and subsidiaries for April and May of both 19X5 and 19X6 furnished us by the company, officials of the company having advised us that no such financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, were available.
(ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited consolidated financial statements referred to in b(i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the registration statement.

The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Also, they would not necessarily reveal matters of significance with respect to the comments in the following paragraph. Accordingly, we make no representations regarding the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes.

5.    Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures, however, that caused us fn 5 to believe that—

a.

(i) Any material modifications should be made to the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in 4a(i), included in the registration statement, for them to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. fn 6
(ii) The unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in 4a(i) do not comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

b

(i) At May 31, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt, or decrease in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, or
(ii) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared to the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

6.    As mentioned in 4b, company officials have advised us that no consolidated financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, are available; accordingly, the procedures carried out by us with respect to changes in financial statement items after May 31, 19X6, have, of necessity, been even more limited than those with respect to the periods referred to in 4. We have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether (a) at June 23, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement or (b) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 23, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income. On the basis of these inquiries and our reading of the minutes as described in 4, nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that there was any such change, increase, or decrease, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

7.    This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the company in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to within or without the underwriting group for any purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the registration statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the underwriting agreement or in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement.

Example B: Letter When a Short-Form Registration Statement Is Filed Incorporating Previously Filed Forms 10-K and 10-Q by Reference

3. Example B is applicable when a registrant uses a short-form registration statement (Form S-2 or S-3) which, by reference, incorporates previously filed Forms 10-K and 10-Q. It assumes that the short-form registration statement and prospectus include the Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 19X5, and Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 19X6, which have been incorporated by reference. In addition to the information presented below, the letter would also contain paragraphs 6 and 7 of the typical letter in example A. A Form S-2 registration statement will often both incorporate and include the registrant's financial statements. In such situations, the language in the following example should be appropriately modified to refer to such information as being both incorporated and included.

June 28, 19X6

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We have audited the consolidated balance sheets of The Blank Company, Inc. (the company) and subsidiaries as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and the consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5, and the related financial statement schedules, all included (incorporated by reference) in the company's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 19X5, and incorporated by reference in the registration statement (no. 33-00000) on Form S-3 filed by the company under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act); our report with respect thereto is also incorporated by reference in that registration statement. The registration statement, as amended on June 28, 19X6, is herein referred to as the registration statement.

In connection with the registration statement—

1. We are independent certified public accountants with respect to the company within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC.

2. In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedules audited by us and incorporated by reference in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

3. We have not audited any financial statements of the company as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5; although we have conducted an audit for the year ended December 31, 19X5, the purpose (and therefore the scope) of the audit was to enable us to express our opinion on the consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the consolidated financial statements for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the company's quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 19X6, incorporated by reference in the registration statement, or on the financial position, results of operations, or cash flows as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5.

4. For purposes of this letter, we have read the 19X6 minutes of the meetings of the stockholders, the board of directors, and [include other appropriate committees, if any] of the company and its subsidiaries as set forth in the minute books at June 23, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 7 through that date were set forth therein; we have carried out other procedures to June 23, 19X6, as follows (our work did not extend to the period from June 24, 19X6, to June 28, 19X6, inclusive):

a. With respect to the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, we have—

(i) Performed the procedures specified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for a review of interim financial information as described in SAS No. 71, Interim Financial Information, on the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements for these periods, described in 3, included in the company's quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 19X6, incorporated by reference in the registration statement.
(ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in a(i) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as it applies to Form 10-Q and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

b. With respect to the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, we have—

(i) Read the unaudited consolidated financial statements fn 8 of the company and subsidiaries for April and May of both 19X5 and 19X6 furnished us by the company, officials of the company having advised us that no such financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, were available.
(ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited consolidated financial statements referred to in b(i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements incorporated by reference in the registration statement.

The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Also, they would not necessarily reveal matters of significance with respect to the comments in the following paragraph. Accordingly, we make no representations about the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes.

5. Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures, however, that caused us to believe that—

a. 

(i) Any material modifications should be made to the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in 3, incorporated by reference in the registration statement, for them to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
(ii) The unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in 3 do not comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as it applies to Form 10-Q and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

b. 

(i) At May 31, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt, or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6 unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet incorporated by reference in the registration statement or
(ii) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

Example C: Letter Reaffirming Comments in Example A as of a Later Date

4.If more than one comfort letter is requested, the later letter may, in appropriate situations, refer to information appearing in the earlier letter without repeating such information (see paragraph .24 and paragraph 1 of the Appendix). Example C reaffirms and updates the information in example A.

July 25, 19X6

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We refer to our letter of June 28, 19X6, relating to the registration statement (no. 33-00000) of The Blank Company, Inc. (the company). We reaffirm as of the date hereof (and as though made on the date hereof) all statements made in that letter except that, for the purposes of this letter—

  1. The registration statement to which this letter relates is as amended on July 13, 19X6 [effective date].
  2. The reading of minutes described in paragraph 4 of that letter has been carried out through July 20, 19X6 [the new cutoff date].
  3. The procedures and inquiries covered in paragraph 4 of that letter were carried out to July 20, 19X6 [the new cutoff date] (our work did not extend to the period from July 21, 19X6, to July 25, 19X6 [date of letter], inclusive).
  4. The period covered in paragraph 4b of that letter is changed to the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 30, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that no such financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to June 30, 19X6, were available.
  5. The references to May 31, 19X6, in paragraph 5b of that letter are changed to June 30, 19X6.
  6. The references to May 31, 19X6, and June 23, 19X6, in paragraph 6 of that letter are changed to June 30, 19X6, and July 20, 19X6, respectively.

This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the company in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to within the underwriting group for any other purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the registration statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the underwriting agreement or any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement.

Example D: Comments on Pro Forma Financial Information

5.Example D is applicable when the accountants are asked to comment on (a) whether the pro forma financial information included in a registration statement complies as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X, and (b) the application of pro forma adjustments to historical amounts in the compilation of the pro forma financial information (see paragraphs .42 and .43). The material in this example is intended to be inserted between paragraphs 6 and 7 in example A. The accountants have audited the December 31, 19X5, financial statements and have conducted an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review of the March 31, 19X6, interim financial information of the acquiring company. Other accountants conducted a review of the March 31, 19X6, interim financial information of XYZ Company, the company being acquired. The example assumes that the accountants have not previously reported on the pro forma financial information. If the accountants did previously report on the pro forma financial information, they may refer in the introductory paragraph of the comfort letter to the fact that they have issued a report, and the report may be attached to the comfort letter (see paragraph .29). In that circumstance, therefore, the procedures in 7b(i) and 7c ordinarily would not be performed, and the accountants should not separately comment on the application of pro forma adjustments to historical financial information, since that assurance is encompassed in the accountants' report on pro forma financial information. The accountants may, however, agree to comment on compliance as to form with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X.

7. At your request, we have—

  1. Read the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated statements of income for the year ended December 31, 19X5, and the three-month period ended March 31, 19X6, included in the registration statement.
  2. Inquired of certain officials of the company and of XYZ Company (the company being acquired) who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters about—
    (i) The basis for their determination of the pro forma adjustments, and
    (ii) Whether the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in 7a comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X.
  3. Proved the arithmetic accuracy of the application of the pro forma adjustments to the historical amounts in the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements.

The foregoing procedures are substantially less in scope than an examination, the objective of which is the expression of an opinion on management's assumptions, the pro forma adjustments, and the application of those adjustments to historical financial information. Accordingly, we do not express such an opinion. The foregoing procedures would not necessarily reveal matters of significance with respect to the comments in the following paragraph. Accordingly, we make no representation about the sufficiency of such procedures for your purposes.

8.Nothing came to our attention as a result of the procedures specified in paragraph 7, however, that caused us to believe that the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in 7a included in the registration statement do not comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X and that the pro forma adjustments have not been properly applied to the historical amounts in the compilation of those statements. Had we performed additional procedures or had we made an examination of the pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you.

Example E: Comments on a Financial Forecast

6. Example E is applicable when accountants are asked to comment on a financial forecast (see paragraph .44). The material in this example is intended to be inserted between paragraphs 6 and 7 in example A. The example assumes that the accountants have previously reported on the compilation of the financial forecast and that the report is attached to the letter (see paragraph .29 and example O).

7. At your request, we performed the following procedure with respect to the forecasted consolidated balance sheet and consolidated statements of income and cash flows as of December 31, 19X6, and for the year then ending. With respect to forecasted rental income, we compared the occupancy statistics about expected demand for rental of the housing units to statistics for existing comparable properties and found them to be the same.

8. Because the procedure described above does not constitute an examination of prospective financial statements in accordance with standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, we do not express an opinion on whether the prospective financial statements are presented in conformity with AICPA presentation guidelines or on whether the underlying assumptions provide a reasonable basis for the presentation.

Had we performed additional procedures or had we made an examination of the forecast in accordance with standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you. Furthermore, there will usually be differences between the forecasted and actual results, because events and circumstances frequently do not occur as expected, and those differences may be material.

Example F: Comments on Tables, Statistics, and Other Financial Information—Complete Description of Procedures and Findings

7.Example F is applicable when the accountants are asked to comment on tables, statistics, or other compilations of information appearing in a registration statement (paragraphs .54 through .60). Each of the comments is in response to a specific request. The paragraphs in example F are intended to follow paragraph 6 in example A.

7.For purposes of this letter, we have also read the following, set forth in the registration statement on the indicated pages. fn 9

Item Page Description
a 4 "Capitalization." The amounts under the captions "Amount Outstanding as of June 15, 19X6" and "As Adjusted." The related notes, except the following in Note 2: "See 'Transactions With Interested Persons.' From the proceeds of this offering the company intends to prepay $900,000 on these notes, pro rata. See 'Use of Proceeds.'"
b 13 "History and Business—Sales and Marketing." The table following the first paragraph.
c 22 "Executive Compensation—19X5 Compensation."
d 33 "Selected Financial Data." fn 10

8. Our audit of the consolidated financial statements for the periods referred to in the introductory paragraph of this letter comprised audit tests and procedures deemed necessary for the purpose of expressing an opinion on such financial statements taken as a whole. For none of the periods referred to therein, or any other period, did we perform audit tests for the purpose of expressing an opinion on individual balances of accounts or summaries of selected transactions such as those enumerated above, and, accordingly, we express no opinion thereon.

9. However, for purposes of this letter we have performed the following additional procedures, which were applied as indicated with respect to the items enumerated above.

Item in 7          Procedures and Findings

  1. We compared the amounts and numbers of shares listed under the caption "Amount Outstanding as of June 15, 19X6" with the balances in the appropriate accounts in the company's general ledger at May 31, 19X6 (the latest date for which posting had been made), and found them to be in agreement. We were informed by company officials who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters that there have been no changes in such amounts and numbers of shares between May 31, 19X6, and June 15, 19X6. We compared the amounts and numbers of shares listed under the caption "Amount Outstanding as of June 15, 19X6," adjusted for the issuance of the debentures to be offered by means of the registration statement and for the proposed use of a portion of the proceeds thereof to prepay portions of certain notes, as described under "Use of Proceeds," with the amounts and numbers of shares shown under the caption "As Adjusted" and found such amounts and numbers of shares to be in agreement. (However, we make no comments regarding the reasonableness of the "Use of Proceeds" or whether such use will actually take place.) We compared the description of the securities and the information (except certain information in Note 2, referred to in 7) included in the notes to the table with the corresponding descriptions and information in the company's consolidated financial statements, including the notes thereto included in the registration statement, and found such description and information to be in agreement.
  2. We compared the amounts of military sales, commercial sales, and total sales shown in the registration statement with the balances in the appropriate accounts in the company's accounting records for the respective fiscal years and for the unaudited interim periods and found them to be in agreement. We proved the arithmetic accuracy of the percentages of such amounts of military sales and commercial sales to total sales for the respective fiscal years and for the unaudited interim periods. We compared such computed percentages with the corresponding percentages appearing in the registration statement and found them to be in agreement.
  3. We compared the dollar amounts of compensation (salary, bonus, and other compensation) for each individual listed in the table "Annual Compensation" with the corresponding amounts shown by the individual employee earnings records for the year 19X5 and found them to be in agreement. We compared the dollar amount of aggregate executive officers' cash compensation on page 22 with the corresponding amount shown in an analysis prepared by the company and found the amounts to be in agreement. We traced every item over $10,000 on the analysis to the individual employee records for 19X5. We compared the dollar amounts shown under the heading of "Long-Term Compensation" on page 24 for each listed individual and the aggregate amounts for executive officers with corresponding amounts shown in an analysis prepared by the company and found such amounts to be in agreement.

    We compared the executive compensation information with the requirements of item 402 of Regulation S-K. We also inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the executive compensation information conforms in all material respects with the disclosure requirements of item 402 of Regulation S-K. Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures that caused us to believe that this information does not conform in all material respects with the disclosure requirements of item 402 of Regulation S-K.
  4. We compared the amounts of net sales, income from continuing operations, income from continuing operations per common share, and cash dividends declared per common share for the years ended December 31, 19X5, 19X4, and 19X3, with the respective amounts in the consolidated financial statements on pages 27 and 28 and the amounts for the years ended December 31, 19X2, and 19X1, with the respective amounts in the consolidated financial statements included in the company's annual reports to stockholders for 19X2 and 19X1 and found them to be in agreement.

    We compared the amounts of total assets, long-term obligations, and redeemable preferred stock at December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, with the respective amounts in the consolidated financial statements on pages 27 and 28 and the amounts at December 31, 19X3, and 19X2, and 19X1 with the corresponding amounts in the consolidated financial statements included in the company's annual reports to stockholders for 19X3, 19X2, and 19X1 and found them to be in agreement.

    We compared the information included under the heading "Selected Financial Data" with the requirements of item 301 of Regulation S-K. We also inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether this information conforms in all material respects with the disclosure requirements of item 301 of Regulation S-K. Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures that caused us to believe that this information does not conform in all material respects with the disclosure requirements of item 301 of Regulation S-K.

10. It should be understood that we make no representations regarding questions of legal interpretation or regarding the sufficiency for your purposes of the procedures enumerated in the preceding paragraph; also, such procedures would not necessarily reveal any material misstatement of the amounts or percentages listed above. Further, we have addressed ourselves solely to the foregoing data as set forth in the registration statement and make no representations regarding the adequacy of disclosure or regarding whether any material facts have been omitted.

11. This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the company in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to within or without the underwriting group for any other purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the registration statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the underwriting agreement or in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement.

Example G: Comments on Tables, Statistics, and Other Financial Information—Summarized Description of Procedures and Findings Regarding Tables, Statistics, and Other Financial Information

8. Example G illustrates, in paragraph 9a, a method of summarizing the descriptions of procedures and findings regarding tables, statistics, and other financial information in order to avoid repetition in the comfort letter. The summarization of the descriptions is permitted by paragraph .58. Each of the comments is in response to a specific request. The paragraphs in example G are intended to follow paragraph 6 in example A. fn 11

7. For purposes of this letter, we have also read the following, set forth in the registration statement on the indicated pages.

Item Page Description
a 4 "Capitalization." The amounts under the captions "Amount Outstanding as of June 15, 19X6" and "As Adjusted." The related notes, except the following in Note 2: "See 'Transactions With Interested Persons.' From the proceeds of this offering the company intends to prepay $900,000 on these notes, pro rata. See 'Use of Proceeds.'"
b 13 "History and Business—Sales and Marketing." The table following the first paragraph.
c 22 "Executive Compensation—19X5 Compensation."
d 33 "Selected Financial Data." fn 12

8. Our audit of the consolidated financial statements for the periods referred to in the introductory paragraph of this letter comprised audit tests and procedures deemed necessary for the purpose of expressing an opinion on such financial statements taken as a whole. For none of the periods referred to therein, or any other period, did we perform audit tests for the purpose of expressing an opinion on individual balances of accounts or summaries of selected transactions such as those enumerated above, and, accordingly, we express no opinion thereon.

9. However, for purposes of this letter and with respect to the items enumerated in 7 above—

  1. Except for item 7a, we have (i) compared the dollar amounts either with the amounts in the audited consolidated financial statements described in the introductory paragraph of this letter or, for prior years, included in the company's annual report to stockholders for the years 19X1, 19X2, and 19X3, or with amounts in the unaudited consolidated financial statements described in paragraph 3 to the extent such amounts are included in or can be derived from such statements and found them to be in agreement; (ii) compared the amounts of military sales, commercial sales, and total sales and the dollar amounts of compensation for each listed individual with amounts in the company's accounting records and found them to be in agreement; (iii) compared other dollar amounts with amounts shown in analyses prepared by the company and found them to be in agreement; and (iv) proved the arithmetic accuracy of the percentages based on the data in the above-mentioned financial statements, accounting records, and analyses.

    We compared the information in items 7c and 7d with the disclosure requirements of Regulation S-K. We also inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether this information conforms in all material respects with the disclosure requirements of Regulation S-K. Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures that caused us to believe that this information does not conform in all material respects with the disclosure requirements of items 402 and 301, respectively, of Regulation S-K.
  2. With respect to item 7a, we compared the amounts and numbers of shares listed under the caption "Amount Outstanding as of June 15, 19X6" with the balances in the appropriate accounts in the company's general ledger at May 31, 19X6 (the latest date for which postings had been made), and found them to be in agreement. We were informed by officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters that there had been no changes in such amounts and numbers of shares between May 31, 19X6, and June 15, 19X6. We compared the amounts and numbers of shares listed under the caption "Amount Outstanding as of June 15, 19X6" adjusted for the issuance of the debentures to be offered by means of the registration statement and for the proposed use of a portion of the proceeds thereof to prepay portions of certain notes, as described under "Use of Proceeds," with the amounts and numbers of shares shown under the caption "As Adjusted" and found such amounts and numbers of shares to be in agreement. (However, we make no comments regarding the reasonableness of "Use of Proceeds" or whether such use will actually take place.) We compared the description of the securities and the information (except certain information in Note 2, referred to in 7) included in the notes to the table with the corresponding descriptions and information in the company's consolidated financial statements, including the notes thereto, included in the registration statement and found such descriptions and information to be in agreement.

10.It should be understood that we make no representations regarding questions of legal interpretation or regarding the sufficiency for your purposes of the procedures enumerated in the preceding paragraph; also, such procedures would not necessarily reveal any material misstatement of the amounts or percentages listed above. Further, we have addressed ourselves solely to the foregoing data as set forth in the registration statement and make no representations regarding the adequacy of disclosure or regarding whether any material facts have been omitted.

11.This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the company in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to within or without the underwriting group for any other purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the registration statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the underwriting agreement or in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement.

Example H: Comments on Tables, Statistics, and Other Financial Information: Descriptions of Procedures and Findings Regarding Tables, Statistics, and Other Financial Information—Attached Registration Statement (or Selected Pages) Identifies With Designated Symbols Items to Which Procedures Were Applied

9. This example illustrates an alternate format which could facilitate reporting when the accountant is requested to perform procedures on numerous statistics included in a registration statement. This format is permitted by paragraph .58. Each of the comments is in response to a specific request. The paragraph in example H is intended to follow paragraph 6 in example A.

7.For purposes of this letter, we have also read the items identified by you on the attached copy of the registration statement (prospectus), and have performed the following procedures, which were applied as indicated with respect to the symbols explained below:

Compared the amount with the XYZ (Predecessor Company) financial statements for the period indicated and found them to be in agreement.

Compared the amount with the XYZ (Predecessor Company) financial statements for the period indicated contained in the registration statement and found them to be in agreement.

Compared the amount with ABC Company's financial statements for the period indicated contained in the registration statement and found them to be in agreement.

Compared with a schedule or report prepared by the Company and found them to be in agreement.

The letter would also contain paragraphs 8, 10, and 11 of the letter in example F.

[The following is an extract from a registration statement that illustrates how an accountant can document procedures performed on numerous statistics included in the registration statement.]

The following summary is qualified in its entirety by the financial statements and detailed information appearing elsewhere in this Prospectus.

The Company

ABC Company (the "Company") designs, constructs, sells, and finances single-family homes for the entry-level and move-up homebuyer. The Company and its predecessor have built and delivered more single-family homes in the metropolitan area than any other homebuilder for each of the last five years. The Company delivered 1,000 homes in the year ending December 31, 19X5, and at December 31, 19X5, had 500 homes fn 13 under contract with an aggregate sales price of approximately $45,000,000. The Company's wholly owned mortgage banking subsidiary, which commenced operations in March 19X5, currently originates a substantial portion of the mortgages for homes sold by the Company.

The Company typically does not engage in land development without related homebuilding operations and limits speculative building. The Company purchases only that land which it is prepared to begin developing immediately for home production. A substantial portion of the Company's homes are under contract for sale before construction commences.

The DEF area has been among the top five markets in the country in housing starts for each of the last five years, with more than 90,000 single-family starts during that period. During the same period, the DEF metropolitan area has experienced increases in population, personal income, and employment at rates above the national average. The Company is a major competitive factor in three of the seven market areas, and is expanding significantly in a fourth area.

The Offering  
Stock Offered by the Company..................

750,000

shares of Common Stock—$.01 par value (the Common Stock") fn *

Common Stock to Be Outstanding.............. 3,250,000 shares fn *
Use of Proceeds......................................... To repay indebtedness incurred for the acquisition of the Company.
Proposed NASDAQ Symbol...................... ABC
 

Summary Financial Information
(In thousands, except per-share data)

     
 

XYZ (Predecessor Company)
Year Ended December 31,

ABC Company
Year Ended
December 31,
   
Income Statement Data 19X1 19X2 19X3 19X4 19X5
Revenue from
home sales
$106,603 $88,970 $104,110 $115,837 $131,032
Gross profit
from sales
15,980 21,138 23,774 17,099 22,407
Income from home
building net of tax
490 3,473 7,029 1,000 3,425
Earnings per share $ 1.37

Example I: Alternate Wording When Accountants' Report on Audited Financial Statements Contains an Explanatory Paragraph

10.Example I is applicable when the accountants' report on the audited financial statements included in the registration statement contains an explanatory paragraph regarding a matter that would also affect the unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements included in the registration statement. The introductory paragraph of example A would be revised as follows:

Our reports with respect thereto (which contain an explanatory paragraph that describes a lawsuit to which the Company is a defendant, discussed in note 8 to the consolidated financial statements) are also included in the registration statement.

The matter described in the explanatory paragraph should also be evaluated to determine whether it also requires mention in the comments on the unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial information (paragraph 5b of example A). If it is concluded that mention of such a matter in the comments on unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements is appropriate, a sentence should be added at the end of paragraph 5b in example A:

Reference should be made to the introductory paragraph of this letter which states that our audit report covering the consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 19X5, includes an explanatory paragraph that describes a lawsuit to which the company is a defendant, discussed in note 8 to the consolidated financial statements.

Example J: Alternate Wording When More Than One Accountant Is Involved

11.Example J applies when more than one accountant is involved in the audit of the financial statements of a business and the principal accountants have obtained a copy of the comfort letter of the other accountants (see paragraph .18). Example J consists of an addition to paragraph 4c, a substitution for the applicable part of paragraph 5, and an addition to paragraph 6 of example A.

[4]c.We have read the letter dated _________ of [the other accountants] with regard to [the related company].

5.Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures (which, so far as [the related company] is concerned, consisted solely of reading the letter referred to in 4c), however, that caused us to believe that....

6.. . .On the basis of these inquiries and our reading of the minutes and the letter dated ________ of [the other accountants] with regard to [the related company], as described in 4, nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that there was any such change, increase, or decrease, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

Example K: Alternate Wording When the SEC Has Agreed to a Departure From Its Accounting Requirements

12.Example K is applicable when (a) there is a departure from the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC and (b) representatives of the SEC have agreed to the departure. Paragraph 2 of example A would be revised to read as follows:

2.In our opinion [include the phrase "except as disclosed in the registration statement," if applicable], the consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedules audited by us and included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC; however, as agreed to by representatives of the SEC, separate financial statements and financial statement schedules of ABC Company (an equity investee) as required by rule 3-09 of Regulation S-X have been omitted.

Example L: Alternate Wording When Recent Earnings Data Are Presented in Capsule Form

13.Example L is applicable when (a) the statement of income in the registration statement is supplemented by later information regarding sales and earnings (capsule financial information), (b) the accountants are asked to comment on that information (paragraphs .39 through .41), and (c) the accountants have conducted a review in accordance with section 722 of the financial statements from which the capsule financial information is derived. The same facts exist as in example A, except for the following:

  1. Sales, net income (no extraordinary items), and earnings per share for the six-month periods ended June 30, 19X6 and 19X5 (both unaudited), are included in capsule form more limited than that specified by APB Opinion 28 [AC section I73.146].
  2. No financial statements later than those for June 19X6 are available.
  3. The letter is dated July 25, 19X6, and the cutoff date is July 20, 19X6.

Paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of example A should be revised to read as follows:

4.For purposes of this letter we have read the 19X6 minutes of the meetings of the stockholders, the board of directors, and [include other appropriate committees, if any] of the company and its subsidiaries as set forth in the minute books at July 20, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 14 through that date were set forth therein; we have carried out other procedures to July 20, 19X6, as follows (our work did not extend to the period from July 21, 19X6, to July 25, 19X6, inclusive):

a. With respect to the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, we have—

(i) Performed the procedures specified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for a review of interim financial information as described in SAS No. 71, Interim Financial Information, on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement.
(ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in (i) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

b. With respect to the six-month periods ended June 30, 19X6 and 19X5, we have—

(i) Read the unaudited amounts for sales, net income, and earnings per share for the six-month periods ended June 30, 19X6 and 19X5, as set forth in paragraph [identify location].
(ii) Performed the procedures specified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for a review of financial information as described in SAS No. 71, Interim Financial Information, on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of June 30, 19X6 and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the six-month periods ended June 30, 19X6 and 19X5 from which the unaudited amounts referred to in b(i) are derived.
(iii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited amounts referred to in (i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the corresponding amounts in the audited consolidated statements of income.

The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Also, they would not necessarily reveal matters of significance with respect to the comments in the following paragraph. Accordingly, we make no representations regarding the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes.

5. Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures, however, that caused us to believe that—

a. 

  1. Any material modifications should be made to the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in 4a(i), included in the registration statement, for them to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
  2. The unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in 4a(i) do not comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

b. 

(i) The unaudited amounts for sales, net income and earnings per share for the six-month periods ended June 30, 19X6 and 19X5, referred to in 4b(i) do not agree with the amounts set forth in the unaudited consolidated financial statements for those same periods.
(ii) The unaudited amounts referred to in b(i) were not determined on a basis substantially consistent with that of the corresponding amounts in the audited consolidated statements of income.

c. At June 30, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

6. Company officials have advised us that no consolidated financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to June 30, 19X6, are available; accordingly, the procedures carried out by us with respect to changes in financial statement items after June 30, 19X6, have been, of necessity, even more limited than those with respect to the periods referred to in 4. We have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters regarding whether (a) at July 20, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6 unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement; or (b) for the period from July 1, 19X6, to July 20, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income. On the basis of these inquiries and our reading of the minutes as described in 4, nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that there was any such change, increase, or decrease, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

Example M: Alternate Wording When Accountants Are Aware of a Decrease in a Specified Financial Statement Item

14. Example M covers a situation in which accountants are aware of a decrease in a financial statement item on which they are requested to comment (see paragraphs .45 through .53). The same facts exist as in example A, except for the decrease covered in the following change in paragraph 5b.

b. 

(i) At May 31, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decrease in consolidated stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, or
(ii) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur and except that the unaudited consolidated balance sheet as of May 31, 19X6, which we were furnished by the company, showed a decrease from March 31, 19X6, in consolidated net current assets as follows (in thousands of dollars):
  Current
Assets
Current
Liabilities
Net Current
Assets
March 31, 19X6 $4,251 $1,356 $2,895
May 31, 19X6 3,986 1,732 2,254

6.As mentioned in 4b, company officials have advised us that no consolidated financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, are available; accordingly, the procedures carried out by us with respect to changes in financial statement items after May 31, 19X6, have been, of necessity, even more limited than those with respect to the periods referred to in 4. We have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters regarding whether (a) there was any change at June 23, 19X6, in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement; or (b) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 23, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income. On the basis of these inquiries and our reading of the minutes as described in 4, nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that there was any such change, increase, or decrease, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur and except as described in the following sentence. We have been informed by officials of the company that there continues to be a decrease in net current assets that is estimated to be approximately the same amount as set forth in 5b [or whatever other disclosure fits the circumstances].

Example N: Alternate Wording of the Letter for Companies That Are Permitted to Present Interim Earnings Data for a Twelve-Month Period

15. Certain types of companies are permitted to include earnings data for a twelve-month period to the date of the latest balance sheet furnished in lieu of earnings data for both the interim period between the end of the latest fiscal year and the date of the latest balance sheet and the corresponding period of the preceding fiscal year. The following would be substituted for the applicable part of paragraph 3 of example A.

3. . . .was to enable us to express our opinion on the financial statements as of December 31, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the financial statements for any period included in part within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the related unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the twelve months then ended included in the registration statement. . . .

Example O: Alternate Wording When the Procedures That the Underwriter Has Requested the Accountant to Perform on Interim Financial Information Are Less Than an SAS No. 71 Review

16.The example assumes that the underwriter has asked the accountants to perform specified procedures on the interim financial information and report thereon in the comfort letter. The letter is dated June 28, 19X6; procedures were performed through June 23, 19X6, the cutoff date. Since an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review was not performed on the interim financial information as of March 31, 19X6 and for the quarter then ended, the accountants are limited to reporting procedures performed and findings obtained on the interim financial information. In addition to the information presented below, the letter would also contain paragraph 7 of the typical comfort letter in example A.

June 28, 19X6

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We have audited the consolidated balance sheets of The Blank Company, Inc. (the company) and the subsidiaries as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and the consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5 and the related financial statement schedules all included in the registration statement (no. 33-00000) on Form S-1 filed by the company under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act); our reports with respect thereto are included in that registration statement. The registration statement, as amended on June 28, 19X6, is herein referred to as the registration statement.

Also, we have compiled the forecasted balance sheet and consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows as of December 31, 19X6 and for the year then ending, attached to the registration statement, as indicated in our report dated May 15, 19X6, which is attached.

In connection with the registration statement—

1. We are independent certified public accountants with respect to the company within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC.

2. In our opinion [include the phrase "except as disclosed in the registration statement," if applicable], the consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedules audited by us and included in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

3. We have not audited any financial statements of the company as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5; although we have conducted an audit for the year ended December 31, 19X5, the purpose (and therefore the scope) of the audit was to enable us to express our opinion on the consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the financial statements for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement, or on the financial position, results of operations, or cash flows as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5.

4. For purposes of this letter, we have read the 19X6 minutes of meetings of the stockholders, the board of directors, and [include other appropriate committees, if any] of the company as set forth in the minute books at June 23, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 15 through that date were set forth therein; we have carried out other procedures to June 23, 19X6, as follows (our work did not extend to the period from June 24, 19X6, to June 28, 19X6, inclusive):

  1. With respect to the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, we have—
    (i) Read the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement, and agreed the amounts contained therein with the company's accounting records as of March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, and for the three-month periods then ended.
    (ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in a(i): (1) are in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles fn 16 applied on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the registration statement, and (2) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC. Those officials stated that the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements (1) are in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles applied on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited financial statements, and (2) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.
  2. With respect to the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, we have—
    (i) Read the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements of the company fn 17 for April and May of both 19X5 and 19X6 furnished us by the company, and agreed the amounts contained therein to the company's accounting records. Officials of the company have advised us that no such financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, were available.
    (ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether (1) the unaudited financial statements referred to in b(i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the registration statement, (2) at May 31, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decrease in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6 unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, and (3) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.

    Those officials stated that (1) the unaudited consolidated financial statements referred to in 4b(i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the registration statement, (2) at May 31, 19X6, there was no change in the capital stock, no increase in long-term debt, and no decrease in net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, and (3) there were no decreases for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.

  3. As mentioned in 4b(i), company officials have advised us that no financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, are available; accordingly, the procedures carried out by us with respect to changes in financial statement items after May 31, 19X6, have, of necessity, been even more limited than those with respect to the periods referred to in 4a and 4b. We have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether (a) at June 23, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, or (b) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 23, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income. Those officials stated that (1) at June 23, 19X6, there was no change in the capital stock, no increase in long-term debt and no decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet, and (2) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 23, 19X6, there were no decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.

The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. We make no representations regarding the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes. Had we performed additional procedures or had we conducted an audit or a review, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you.

5. At your request, we also performed the following procedures:

  1. Read the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated statements of income for the year ended December 31, 19X5, and the three-month period ended March 31, 19X6, included in the registration statement.
  2. Inquired of certain officials of the company and of XYZ Company (the company being acquired) who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters as to whether all significant assumptions regarding the business combination had been reflected in the pro forma adjustments and whether the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in (a) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X.

    Those officials referred to above stated, in response to our inquiries, that all significant assumptions regarding the business combination had been reflected in the pro forma adjustments and that the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in (a) comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of rule 11-02 of Regulation S-X.

  3. Compared the historical financial information for the company included on page 20 in the registration statement with historical financial information for the company on page 12 and found them to be in agreement.

    We also compared the financial information included on page 20 of the registration statement with the historical information for XYZ Company on page 13 and found them to be in agreement.

  4. Proved the arithmetic accuracy of the application of the pro forma adjustments to the historical amounts in the unaudited pro forma condensed consolidated financial statements.

The foregoing procedures are less in scope than an examination, the objective of which is the expression of an opinion on management's assumptions, the pro forma adjustments, and the application of those adjustments to historical financial information. Accordingly, we do not express such an opinion. We make no representation about the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes. Had we performed additional procedures or had we made an examination of the pro forma financial information, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you.

6.At your request, we performed the following procedures with respect to the forecasted consolidated balance sheet and consolidated statements of income and cash flows as of December 31, 19X6, and for the year then ending. With respect to forecasted rental income, we compared the occupancy statistics about expected demand for rental of the housing units to statistics for existing comparable properties and found them to be the same.

Because the procedures described above do not constitute an examination of prospective financial statements in accordance with standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, we do not express an opinion on whether the prospective financial statements are presented in conformity with AICPA presentation guidelines or on whether the underlying assumptions provide a reasonable basis for the presentation. Furthermore, there will usually be differences between the forecasted and actual results, because events and circumstances frequently do not occur as expected, and those differences may be material. We make no representations about the sufficiency of such procedures for your purposes. Had we performed additional procedures or had we made an examination of the forecast in accordance with standards established by the AICPA, matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you.

Example P: A Typical Comfort Letter in a Non-1933 Act Offering, Including the Required Underwriter Representations

17. Example P is applicable when a comfort letter is issued in a non-1933 Act offering. The underwriter has given the accountants a letter including the representations regarding their due diligence review process, as described in paragraphs .06 and .07, and the comfort letter refers to those representations. In addition, the example assumes that the accountants were unable, or were not requested, to perform an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review of a subsequent interim period and therefore no negative assurance has been given. See paragraph .47.

November 30, 19X5

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We have audited the balance sheets of Example City, Any State Utility System as of June 30, 19X5 and 19X4, and the statements of revenues, expenses, and changes in retained earnings and cash flows for the years then ended, included in the Official Statement for $30,000,000 of Example City, Any State Utility System Revenue Bonds due November 30, 19Z5. Our report with respect thereto is included in the Official Statement. This Official Statement, dated November 30, 19X5, is herein referred to as the Official Statement.

This letter is being furnished in reliance upon your representation to us that—

  1. You are knowledgeable with respect to the due diligence review process that would be performed if this placement of securities were being registered pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act).
  2. In connection with the offering of revenue bonds, the review process you have performed is substantially consistent with the due diligence review process that you would have performed if this placement of securities were being registered pursuant to the Act.

In connection with the Official Statement—

1. We are independent certified public accountants with respect to Example City, Any State and its Utility System under rule 101 of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct, and its interpretations and rulings.

2. We have not audited any financial statements of Example City, Any State Utility System as of any date or for any period subsequent to June 30, 19X5; although we have conducted an audit for the year ended June 30, 19X5, the purpose (and therefore the scope) of the audit was to enable us to express our opinion on the financial statements as of June 30, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the financial statements for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the financial position, results of operations, or cash flows as of any date or for any period subsequent to June 30, 19X5, for the Example City, Any State Utility System.

3. For purposes of this letter we have read the 19X5 minutes of the meetings of the City Council of Example City, Any State as set forth in the minutes books as of November 25, 19X5, the City Clerk of Example City having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 18 through that date were set forth therein.

4. With respect to the period subsequent to June 30, 19X5, we have carried out other procedures to November 25, 19X5, as follows (our work did not extend to the period from November 26, 19X5, to November 30, 19X5, inclusive):

  • We have inquired of, and received assurance from, city officials who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters, that no financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to June 30, 19X5, are available.
  • We have inquired of those officials regarding whether (a) at November 25, 19X5, there was any increase in long-term debt or any decrease in net current assets of Example City, Any State Utility System as compared with amounts shown on the June 30, 19X5, balance sheet, included in the Official Statement, or (b) for the period from July 1, 19X5, to November 25, 19X5, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in total operating revenues, income from operations or net income. Those officials stated that (1) at November 25, 19X5, there was no increase in long-term debt and no decrease in net current assets of the Example City, Any State Utility System as compared with amounts shown in the June 30, 19X5, balance sheet; and (2) there were no decreases for the period from July 1, 19X5, to November 25, 19X5, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in total operating revenues, income from operations, or net income, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the Official Statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

5. For accounting data pertaining to the years 19X3 through 19X5, inclusive, shown on page 11 of the Official Statement, we have (i) for data shown in the audited financial statements, compared such data with the audited financial statements of the Example City, Any State Utility System for 19X3 through 19X5 and found them to be in agreement; and (ii) for data not directly shown in the audited financial statements, compared such data with the general ledger and accounting records of the Utility System from which such information was derived, and found them to be in agreement.

6. The procedures enumerated in the preceding paragraphs do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Accordingly, we make no representations regarding the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes.

7. This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the Example City, Any State Utility System in connection with the offering of securities covered by the Official Statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to for any other purpose, including but not limited to the purchase or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the Official Statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the Purchase Contract or in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of securities covered by the Official Statement.

Example Q: Letter to a Requesting Party That Has Not Provided the Representation Letter Described in Paragraphs .06 and .07

18.This example assumes that these procedures are being performed at the request of the placement agent on information included in an offering circular in connection with a private placement of unsecured notes with two insurance companies. fn 19 The letter is dated June 30, 19X6; procedures were performed through June 25, 19X6, the cutoff date. The statements in paragraphs 5 through 9 of the example should be included in any letter issued pursuant to paragraph .09. fn 20

June 30, 19X6

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We have audited the consolidated balance sheets of The Blank Company, Inc. (the company) and subsidiaries as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and the consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5, included in the offering circular for $30,000,000 of notes due June 30, 20X6. Our report with respect thereto is included in the offering circular. The offering circular dated June 30, 19X6, is herein referred to as the offering circular.

We are independent certified public accountants with respect to the company under rule 101 of the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct, and its interpretations and rulings. fn 21

We have not audited any financial statements of the company as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5; although we have conducted an audit for the year ended December 31, 19X5, the purpose (and, therefore, the scope) of the audit was to enable us to express our opinion on the consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the financial statements for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the offering circular, or on the financial position, results of operations, or cash flows as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5.

1. At your request, we have read the 19X6 minutes of meetings of the stockholders, the board of directors, and [include other appropriate committees, if any] of the company as set forth in the minute books at June 25, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 22 through that date were set forth therein; we have carried out other procedures to June 25, 19X6 (our work did not extend to the period from June 26, 19X6, to June 30, 19X6, inclusive), as follows:

  1. With respect to the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, we have—
    (i) Read the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders' equity), and cash flows fn 23fn 24 of the company for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the offering circular, and agreed the amounts contained therein with the company's accounting records as of March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, and for the three-month periods then ended.
    (i) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in a(i) are in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles applied on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the offering circular. Those officials stated that the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements are in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles applied on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements.
  2. With respect to the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, we have—
    (i) Read the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements of the company for April and May of both 19X5 and 19X6, furnished us by the company, and agreed the amounts contained therein with the company's accounting records. Officials of the company have advised us that no financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, were available.
    (ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether (1) the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in b(i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the offering circular, (2) at May 31, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decrease in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the offering circular, and (3) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.


    Those officials stated that (1) the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements referred to in b(ii) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the offering circular, (2) at May 31, 19X6, there was no change in the capital stock, no increase in long-term debt, and no decrease in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the offering circular, and (3) there were no decreases for the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.
  3. As mentioned in 1b, company officials have advised us that no financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, are available; accordingly, the procedures carried out by us with respect to changes in financial statement items after May 31, 19X6, have, of necessity, been even more limited than those with respect to the periods referred to in 1a and 1b. We have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether (i) at June 25, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt, or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the offering circular or (ii) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 25, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.

    Those officials referred to above stated that (i) at June 25, 19X6, there was no change in the capital stock, no increase in long-term debt, and no decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders' equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet, and (ii) there were no decreases for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 25, 19X6, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income.

     

2. At your request, we have read the following items in the offering circular on the indicated pages. fn 25

Item Page Description
a 13 "History and Business—Sales and Marketing." The table following the first paragraph.
b 22 "Executive Compensation—19X5 Compensation."
c 33 "Selected Financial Data." fn 26

3.  Our audits of the consolidated financial statements for the periods referred to in the introductory paragraph of this letter comprised audit tests and procedures deemed necessary for the purpose of expressing an opinion on such financial statements taken as a whole. For none of the periods referred to therein, nor for any other period, did we perform audit tests for the purpose of expressing an opinion on individual balances of accounts or summaries of selected transactions such as those enumerated above, and, accordingly, we express no opinion thereon.

4. However, at your request, we have performed the following additional procedures, which were applied as indicated with respect to the items enumerated above.

Item in 2        Procedures and Findings

  1. We compare the amounts of military sales, commercial sales, and total sales shown in the registration statement with the balances in the appropriate accounts in the company's accounting records for the respective fiscal years and for the unaudited interim periods and found them to be in agreement. We proved the arithmetic accuracy of the percentages of such amounts of military sales and commercial sales to total sales for the respective fiscal years and for the unaudited interim periods. We compared such computed percentages with the corresponding percentages appearing in the registration statement and found them to be in agreement.
  2. We compared the dollar amounts of compensation (salary, bonus, and other compensation) for each individual listed in the table "Annual Compensation" with the corresponding amounts shown by the individual employee earnings records for the year 19X5 and found them to be in agreement. We compared the dollar amounts shown under the heading of "Long-Term Compensation" on page 24 for each listed individual and the aggregate amounts for executive officers with corresponding amounts shown in an analysis prepared by the company and found such amounts to be in agreement.
  3. We compared the amounts of net sales, income from continuing operations, income from continuing operations per common share, and cash dividends declared per common share for the years ended December 31, 19X5, 19X4, and 19X3, with the respective amounts in the consolidated financial statements on pages 27 and 28 and the amounts for the years ended December 31, 19X2, and 19X1, with the respective amounts in the consolidated financial statements included in the company's annual reports to stockholders for 19X2 and 19X1 and found them to be in agreement.

    We compared the amounts of total assets, long-term obligations, and redeemable preferred stock at December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, with the respective amounts in the consolidated financial statements on pages 27 and 28 and the amounts at December 31, 19X3, and 19X2, and 19X1 with the corresponding amounts in the consolidated financial statements included in the company's annual reports to stockholders for 19X3, 19X2, and 19X1 and found them to be in agreement.

5.It should be understood that we have no responsibility for establishing (and did not establish) the scope and nature of the procedures enumerated in paragraphs 1 through 4 above; rather, the procedures enumerated therein are those the requesting party asked us to perform. Accordingly, we make no representations regarding questions of legal interpretation fn 27 or regarding the sufficiency for your purposes of the procedures enumerated in the preceding paragraphs; also, such procedures would not necessarily reveal any material misstatement of the amounts or percentages listed above as set forth in the offering circular. Further, we have addressed ourselves solely to the foregoing data and make no representations regarding the adequacy of disclosures or whether any material facts have been omitted. This letter relates only to the financial statement items specified above and does not extend to any financial statement of the company taken as a whole.

6.The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Had we performed additional procedures or had we conducted an audit or a review of the company's March 31, April 30, or May 31, 19X6 and 19X5, condensed consolidated financial statements in accordance with standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you.

7.These procedures should not be taken to supplant any additional inquiries or procedures that you would undertake in your consideration of the proposed offering.

8.This letter is solely for your information and to assist you in your inquiries in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the offering circular, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to for any other purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the offering document or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the offering document.

9.We have no responsibility to update this letter for events and circumstances occurring after June 25, 19X6.

Example R: Comfort Letter That Includes Reference to Examination of Annual MD&A and Review of Interim MD&A

19. This example assumes the following circumstances. fn 28 The prospectus (part I of the registration statement) includes audited consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and audited consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders’ equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5. Part I also includes an unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders’ equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5. Part II of the registration statement includes audited consolidated financial statement schedules for the three years ended December 31, 19X5. The accountants have examined the company’s management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A) for the year ended December 31, 19X5, in accordance with AT section 701; the accountants have also performed reviews of the company’s unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements, referred to above, in accordance with section 722, and the company’s MD&A for the three-month period ended March 31, 19X6, in accordance with AT section 701. The accountant’s reports on the examination and review of MD&A have been previously issued, but not distributed publicly; none of these reports is included in the registration statement. The cutoff date is June 23, 19X6, and the letter is dated June 28, 19X6. The effective date is June 28, 19X6.

Each of the comments in the letter is in response to a requirement of the underwriting agreement. For purposes of example R, the income statement items of the current interim period are to be compared with those of the corresponding period of the preceding year.

June 28, 19X6

[Addressee]

Dear Sirs:

We have audited the consolidated balance sheets of The Blank Company, Inc. (the company) and subsidiaries as of December 31, 19X5 and 19X4, and the consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders’ equity), and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 19X5, and the related financial statement schedules, all included in the registration statement (no. 33-00000) on Form S-1 filed by the company under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act); our reports with respect thereto are also included in that registration statement. The registration statement, as amended on June 28, 19X6, is herein referred to as the registration statement. Also, we have examined fn 29 the company’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 19X5, included in the registration statement, as indicated in our report dated March 28, 19X6; our report with respect thereto is attached. fn 30 We have also reviewed the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements as of March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, and for the three-month periods then ended, included in the registration statement, as indicated in our report dated May 15, 19X6, and have also reviewed the company’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the three-month period ended March 31, 19X6, included in the registration statement, as indicated in our report dated May 15, 19X6; our reports with respect thereto are attached. fn 31

In connection with the registration statement—

1. We are independent certified public accountants with respect to the company within the meaning of the Act and the applicable rules and regulations thereunder adopted by the SEC.

2. In our opinion [include the phrase “except as disclosed in the registration statement,” if applicable], the consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedules audited by us and included in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

3. We have not audited any financial statements of the company as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5; although we have conducted an audit for the year ended December 31, 19X5, the purpose (and therefore the scope) of the audit was to enable us to express our opinion on the consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 19X5, and for the year then ended, but not on the financial statements for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders’ equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 1, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement, or on the financial position, results of operations, or cash flows as of any date or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5.

4. We have not examined any management’s discussion and analysis of the company as of or for any period subsequent to December 31, 19X5; although we have made an examination of the company’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the year ended December 31, 19X5, included in the company’s registration statement, the purpose (and therefore the scope) of the examination was to enable us to express our opinion on such Management’s Discussion and Analysis, but not on the management’s discussion and analysis for any interim period within that year. Therefore, we are unable to and do not express any opinion on the Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the three-month period ended March 31, 19X6, included in the registration statement, or for any period subsequent to March 31, 19X6.

5. For purposes of this letter we have read the 19X6 minutes of meetings of the stockholders, the board of directors, and [include other appropriate committees, if any] of the company and its subsidiaries as set forth in the minute books at June 23, 19X6, officials of the company having advised us that the minutes of all such meetings fn 32 through that date were set forth therein; we have carried out other procedures to June 23, 19X6, as follows (our work did not extend to the period from June 24, 19X6, to June 28, 19X6, inclusive):

  1. With respect to the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, we have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 19X6, and the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of income, retained earnings (stockholders’ equity), and cash flows for the three-month periods ended March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, included in the registration statement, comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.
  2. With respect to the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, we have—
    (i) Read the unaudited consolidated financial statements fn 33 of the company and subsidiaries for April and May of both 19X5 and 19X6 furnished to us by the company, officials of the company having advised us that no such financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, were available.
    (ii) Inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether the unaudited consolidated financial statements referred to in item b(i) are stated on a basis substantially consistent with that of the audited consolidated financial statements included in the registration statement.

The foregoing procedures do not constitute an audit of financial statements conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Also, they would not necessarily reveal matters of significance with respect to the comments in the following paragraph. Accordingly, we make no representations regarding the sufficiency of the foregoing procedures for your purposes.

6. Nothing came to our attention as a result of the foregoing procedures, however, that caused us fn 34 to believe that—

  1. The unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements described in item 5a do not comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.
  2.  
    (i) At May 31, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt, or decrease in consolidated net current assets or stockholders’ equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown in the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement, or
    (i) For the period from April 1, 19X6, to May 31, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared to the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

7. As mentioned in item 5b, company officials have advised us that no consolidated financial statements as of any date or for any period subsequent to May 31, 19X6, are available; accordingly, the procedures carried out by us with respect to changes in financial statement items after May 31, 19X6, have, of necessity, been even more limited than those with respect to the periods referred to in item 5. We have inquired of certain officials of the company who have responsibility for financial and accounting matters whether (a) at June 23, 19X6, there was any change in the capital stock, increase in long-term debt or any decreases in consolidated net current assets or stockholders’ equity of the consolidated companies as compared with amounts shown on the March 31, 19X6, unaudited condensed consolidated balance sheet included in the registration statement or (b) for the period from April 1, 19X6, to June 23, 19X6, there were any decreases, as compared with the corresponding period in the preceding year, in consolidated net sales or in the total or per-share amounts of income before extraordinary items or of net income. On the basis of these inquiries and our reading of the minutes as described in item 5, nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that there was any such change, increase, or decrease, except in all instances for changes, increases, or decreases that the registration statement discloses have occurred or may occur.

8. This letter is solely for the information of the addressees and to assist the underwriters in conducting and documenting their investigation of the affairs of the company in connection with the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement, and it is not to be used, circulated, quoted, or otherwise referred to within or without the underwriting group for any purpose, including but not limited to the registration, purchase, or sale of securities, nor is it to be filed with or referred to in whole or in part in the registration statement or any other document, except that reference may be made to it in the underwriting agreement or in any list of closing documents pertaining to the offering of the securities covered by the registration statement.

[Paragraph renumbered and amended, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76. As amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86. Revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

Footnotes (AU Section 634 — Letters for Underwriters and Certain Other Requesting Parties):

[fn 1] [Footnote deleted by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 2 The term underwriter is defined in section 2 of the Act as "any person who has purchased from an issuer with a view to, or offers or sells for an issuer in connection with, the distribution of any security, or participates or has a participation in the direct or indirect participation in any such undertaking or participates or has a participation in the direct or indirect underwriting of any such undertaking; but such term shall not include a person whose interest is limited to a commission from an underwriter or dealer not in excess of the usual and customary distributors' or sellers' commission. As used in this paragraph, the term issuer shall include, in addition to an issuer, any person directly or indirectly controlling or controlled by the issuer, or any person under direct or indirect common control with the issuer."

fn 3 This section is not intended to preclude accountants from providing to the client's board of directors, when appropriate, a letter addressed to the board of directors similar in content to a comfort letter. See the auditing interpretation "Letters to Directors Relating to Annual Reports on Form 10-K" (section 9634.01-.09).

fn 4 It is recognized that what is "substantially consistent" may vary from situation to situation and may not be the same as that done in a registered offering of the same securities for the same issuer; whether the procedures being, or to be, followed will be "substantially consistent" will be determined by the requesting party on a case-by-case basis.

fn 5 If a nonunderwriter requests a comfort letter in connection with a securities offering pursuant to the Act, the wording of the representation letter should be revised as follows:

"This review process . . . is substantially consistent with the due diligence review process that an underwriter would perform in connection with this placement of securities. We are knowledgeable with respect to the due diligence review process that an underwriter would perform in connection with a placement of securities registered pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933."

fn 6 In an acquisition of securities, this sentence could be reworded to refer to "issuance of securities." See paragraph .05.

fn 7 If this letter is requested in connection with a secured debt offering, the accountants should also refer to the attest interpretation "Responding to Requests for Reports on Matters Relating to Solvency" (AT section 9101.23–.33) for inclusion of additional statements. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76. Footnote revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

fn 8 See the auditing interpretation "Consenting to Be Named as an Expert in an Offering Document in Connection With Securities Offerings Other Than Those Registered Under the Securities Act of 1933" (section 9711.12-.15). [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 9 See section 711, Filings Under Federal Securities Statutes, for a discussion of certain responsibilities of accountants that result from the inclusion of their reports in registration statements. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 10 Negative assurance consists of a statement by accountants that, as a result of performing specified procedures, nothing came to their attention that caused them to believe that specified matters do not meet a specified standard (for example, that nothing came to their attention that caused them to believe that any material modifications should be made to the unaudited financial statements or unaudited condensed financial statements for them to be in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles). [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 11 It is important to note that although the illustrations in this section describe procedures that may be followed by accountants as a basis for their comments in comfort letters, this section does not necessarily prescribe such procedures. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 12 Except when the context otherwise requires, the word underwriter (or certain other requesting parties, as described in paragraphs .03, .04, and .05), as used in this section refers to the managing, or lead, underwriter, who typically negotiates the underwriting agreement for a group of underwriters whose exact composition is not determined until shortly before a registration statement becomes effective. In competitive bidding situations in which legal counsel for the underwriters acts as the underwriters' representative prior to opening and acceptance of the bid, the accountants should carry out the discussions and other communications contemplated by this section with the legal counsel until the underwriter is selected. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 13 When the accountants have been requested to provide negative assurance on interim financial information or capsule financial information and the procedures required for an SAS No. 71 [section 722] review have been performed, those procedures need not be specified. See paragraphs .37 through .41. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 14 In the absence of any discussions with the underwriter, the accountants should outline in the draft letter those procedures specified in the underwriting agreement that they are willing to perform. In that event, the sentence to which this footnote refers should be revised as follows: "In the absence of any discussions with [name of underwriter], we have set out in this draft letter those procedures referred to in the draft underwriting agreement (of which we have been furnished a copy) that we are willing to follow." [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 15 Regulation S-X, "Form and Content of and Requirements for Financial Statements, Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, Investment Company Act of 1940, and Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975." [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 16 Regulation S-K, "Standard Instructions for Filing Forms Under Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975." [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 17 An example of an appropriate form of address for this purpose is "The Blank Company and XYZ & Company, as Representative of the Several Underwriters." [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 18 The accountants may also refer in the opening paragraph to expansions of their report that do not affect their opinion on the basic financial statements, for example, expansions of their report regarding (a) interim financial information accompanying or included in the notes to audited financial statements (see section 722.50) or (b) required supplementary information described in section 558, Required Supplementary Information, paragraphs .08 through .11. See paragraph .30 of this section. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote revised, September 2002, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 98. Footnote revised, November 2002, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 100.]

fn 19 The accountants need not refer to or discuss explanatory paragraphs covering consistency of application of accounting principles. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 20 See section 530, Dating of the Independent Auditor's Report, paragraphs .03 through .08. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995.]

fn 21 Except for a review report on management's discussion and analysis (MD&A), the accountants should not refer to or attach to the comfort letter any restricted use report, such as a report on agreed-upon procedures. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. As amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 22 When the accountant does not perform a review or an examination of MD&A or does not attach or refer to a report on MD&A, the accountant may perform agreed-upon procedures with respect to items in MD&A, subject to controls over financial reporting (see paragraph .55). [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 22a The SEC, in Financial Reporting Release No. 50 dated February 18, 1998, recognized the establishment of the Independence Standards Board (ISB) and indicated that the SEC intends to look to the ISB as the private sector body responsible for establishing independence standards and interpretations for auditors of public entities. [Footnote added, June 1999, to acknowledge the SEC’s recognition of the ISB.]

fn 23 The phrase rules and regulations adopted by the SEC is used because accountants should not be expected to be familiar with, or express assurances on compliance with, informal positions of the SEC staff. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered and amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 24 Certain financial statements may be incorporated in a registration statement under the Act by reference to filings under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the 1934 Act). In those circumstances, the accountants may refer to whether the audited financial statements and financial statement schedules included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement comply as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the 1934 Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC (see example B [paragraph .64]). However, the accountants should not refer to compliance with the provisions of the 1934 Act regarding internal accounting control. See AT section 501, Reporting on an Entity's Internal Control Over Financial Reporting, paragraph .82. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered and amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86. Footnote revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

fn 25 Departures from rules and regulations adopted by the SEC that require mention in a comfort letter ordinarily do not affect fair presentation in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles; however, if they do, the accountants will, of course, mention these departures in expressing their opinion and in consenting to the use of their report in the registration statement. If departures from rules and regulations adopted by the SEC that require mention in a comfort letter either are not disclosed in the registration statement or have not been agreed to by representatives of the SEC, the accountants should carefully consider whether a consent to the use of their report in the registration statement should be issued. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered and amended, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 26 Accountants should not comment in a comfort letter on compliance as to form of MD&A with rules and regulations adopted by the SEC; accountants may agree to examine or review MD&A in accordance with AT section 701. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86. Footnote revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

fn 27 The SEC requirements specify condensed financial statements. However, the guidance in paragraphs .37 and .38 also applies to complete financial statements. For purposes of this section, interim financial statements may be for a twelve-month period ending on a date other than the entity's normal year end. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998.]

fn 28 When accountants are engaged to perform procedures on interim financial information, they may have additional responsibilities under certain circumstances. The accountants should refer to section 722 for guidance. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998.]

fn 29 For purposes of issuing a comfort letter, if the forecast is included in the registration statement, the forecast must be accompanied by an indication that the accountants have not examined the forecast and therefore do not express an opinion on it. If a compilation report on the forecast has been issued in connection with the comfort letter, the report need not be included in the registration statement. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998.]

fn 30 When a client's securities are subject to regulation by the SEC, the accountants should be aware of the SEC's views regarding independence when agreeing to perform a compilation of a forecast. Independence may be deemed to be impaired when services include preparation or assembly of financial forecasts. The SEC generally will not question the accountants' independence, however, when services are limited to issuing a report on a forecast as a result of performing the procedures stated in paragraph 5 of AT section 301.69. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998. Footnote revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

fn 31 The answers to these inquiries generally should be supported by appropriate written representations of the company officials. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998.]

fn 32Accountants generally will be unable to comment on nonfinancial data presented in MD&A. However, when the accountants have conducted an examination or a review of MD&A in accordance with AT section 701, they may agree to trace nonfinancial data presented outside MD&A to similar data included in the MD&A presentation. When the accountant does not perform a review or an examination of MD&A or does not attach or refer to a report on MD&A, the accountant may perform agreed-upon procedures with respect to items in MD&A subject to controls over financial reporting. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86. Footnote revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

fn 33 Accountants should not comment in a comfort letter on compliance as to form of MD&A with rules and regulations adopted by the SEC; accountants may agree to examine or review MD&A in accordance with AT section 701. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86. Footnote revised, January 2001, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements No. 10.]

fn 34 See paragraph .30 regarding requests by an underwriter for comments on interim financial information required by item 302(a) of Regulation S-K and required supplementary information described in section 558. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998.]

fn 35 When the letter is furnished by the accountants for a subsidiary and they are not also accountants for the parent company, the letter should include the following phrase at this point: "and for the use of the accountants for [name of issuer] in furnishing their letter to the underwriters." [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76, September 1995. Footnote subsequently renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86, March 1998.]

fn 1 The example includes financial statements required by SEC regulations to be included in the filing. If additional financial information is covered by the comfort letter, appropriate modifications should be made.

fn 2 The example assumes that the accountants have not previously reported on the interim financial information. If the accountants have previously reported on the interim financial information, they may refer to that fact in the introductory paragraph of the comfort letter as follows:

Also, we have reviewed the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements as of March 31, 19X6 and 19X5, and for the three-month periods then ended, as indicated in our report dated May 15, 19X6, which is included (incorporated by reference) in the registration statement. The report may be attached to the comfort letter (see paragraph .29). The accountants may agree to comment in the comment letter on whether the interim financial information complies as to form in all material respects with the applicable accounting requirements of the rules and regulations adopted by the SEC.

fn 3 The accountants should discuss with the secretary those meetings for which minutes have not been approved. The letter should be modified to identify specifically the unapproved minutes of meetings that the accountants have discussed with the secretary.

fn 4 If the interim financial information is incomplete, a sentence similar to the following should be added: "The financial information for April and May is incomplete in that it omits the statements of cash flows and other disclosures."

fn 5 If there has been a change in accounting principle during the interim period, a reference to that change should be included herein.

fn 6 Section 722 does not require the accountants to modify the report on a review of interim financial information for a lack of consistency in the application of accounting principles provided that the interim financial information appropriately discloses such matters.

fn 7 See footnote 3 of the Appendix.

fn 8 See footnote 4 of the Appendix.

fn 9 In some cases it may be considered desirable to combine in one paragraph the substance of paragraphs 7 and 9. This may be done by expanding the identification of items in paragraph 9 to provide the identification information contained in paragraph 7. In such cases, the introductory sentences in paragraphs 7 and 9 and the text of paragraph 8 might be combined as follows: "For purposes of this letter, we have also read the following information and have performed the additional procedures stated below with respect to such information. Our audit of the consolidated financial statements. . ."

fn 10 In some cases the company or the underwriter may request that the independent accountants report on "selected financial data" as described in section 552, Reporting on Condensed Financial Statements and Selected Financial Data. When the accountants report on this data and the report is included in the registration statement, separate comments should not be included in the comfort letter (see paragraph .30).

fn 11 Other methods of summarizing the descriptions may also be appropriately used. For example, the letter may present a matrix listing the financial information and common procedures employed and indicating the procedures applied to specific items.

fn 12 See footnote 10 of the Appendix.

fn 13 See paragraph .55.

fn * Assumes no exercise of the Underwriters' overallotment option. See "Underwriting".

fn 14 See footnote 3 of the Appendix.

fn 15 See footnote 3 of the Appendix.

fn 16 See footnote 5 of the Appendix.

fn 17 See footnote 4 of the Appendix.

fn 18 See footnote 3 of paragraph .03.

fn 19 This same example could be used in conjunction with a municipal bond offering in which the accountant has not received the representation letter described in paragraphs .06 and .07. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 20 This example may also be used in connection with a filing under the Securities Act of 1933 (the Act) when a party other than a named underwriter (for example, a selling shareholder) has not provided the accountant with the representation letter described in paragraphs .06 and .07. In such a situation, this example may be modified to include the accountant's comments on independence and compliance as to form of the audited financial statements and financial statement schedules with the applicable accounting requirements of the Act and the related rules and regulations adopted by the SEC. Example paragraph 1a(ii) may include an inquiry, and the response of company officials, on compliance as to form of the unaudited condensed interim financial statements. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 21 See paragraphs .31 and .32 for guidance in commenting on independence. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 22 See footnote 3 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 23 See footnotes 4 and 5 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 24 Generally, accountants should recognize that the criteria for summarized financial information have not been established for entities other than SEC registrants. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 25 In some cases it may be considered desirable to combine in one paragraph the substance of paragraphs 2 and 4. This may be done by expanding the identification of terms in paragraph 4 to provide the identification information contained in paragraph 2. In such cases the introductory sentences in paragraphs 2 and 4 and the text of paragraph 3 might be combined as follows: "At your request, we have also read the following information and have performed the additional procedures stated below with respect to such information. Our audit of the consolidated financial statements...." [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 26See footnote 10 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 27 See footnote 7 to paragraph .09. [Footnote added, effective for letters issued pursuant to paragraph .09 of this section after April 30, 1996, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 76.]

fn 28 The example includes financial statements required by SEC regulations to be included in the filing. If additional financial information is covered by the comfort letter, appropriate modifications should be made. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 29 If the accountant has performed a review of the company’s annual MD&A, the opening paragraph of the comfort letter should be revised accordingly. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 30 The accountant has elected to attach the previously issued reports to the comfort letter (see paragraph .29). [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 31 See footnote 30 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 32 See footnote 3 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 33 See footnote 4 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

fn 34 See footnote 5 of the Appendix. [Footnote added, effective for comfort letters issued on or after June 30, 1998, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 86.]

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