<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Jonathan Weil</p> <p>One telltale sign of a bull market is that investors don't care as much about dodgy corporate accounting practices. A case in point: the public reaction -- or lack thereof -- to a financial restatement disclosed late yesterday afternoon by Williams Cos., the natural-gas producer.</p> <p>Williams <a href="http://www.b2i.us/profiles/investor/ResLibrary2.asp?BzID=630&amp;g=343&amp;to=rl&amp;Nav=0&amp;LangID=1&amp;s=385">didn't issue</a> a press release about the restatement. As far as I can tell, there have been no news reports about the company's accounting errors, which Williams divulged in a <a href="http://sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/107263/000119312512200767/d341867d8k.htm">filing</a> with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They aren't a small matter, though.</p> <p>As a result of the restatement, Williams said its shareholder equity fell $497 million, or 28 percent, to $1.3 billion as of Dec. 31. Additionally, the company said it had "identified a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting," which is never a good sign. Net income wasn't affected.</p> <p>Shares of Williams were trading for $33.65 this afternoon, down 73 cents, after setting a 52-week high yesterday. The stock is up 88 percent since Oct. 4.</p> <p>Williams, which is audited by Ernst &amp; Young, said the restatement was necessary to correct errors in deferred tax liabilities related to its investment in Williams Partners LP, a publicly traded master limited partnership in which it owns a 68 percent stake. A Williams spokesman, Jeff Pounds, declined to comment when asked why the company didn't issue a press release flagging the restatement.</p> <p>The answer seems obvious, though: The company didn't want anyone to write about it. Oh well.</p> <p>(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/JonathanWeil">Follow</a> him on Twitter.)</p> <p> </p> </body> </html>