Nortel Networks Corp. said that revenue reporting issues and remaining accounting matters will again delay the restatement of its financial results.
Initially, the company said that it would restate results for 2003 and report results for part of 2004 by the end of September. It then said that it would file those statements at the end of October, and then postponed again until mid-November. Now, Nortel said that is targeting completion within one to two months.
Nortel plans to release preliminary unaudited results for 2003 and the first and second quarters of 2004 "as soon as practicable." It plans to release limited preliminary results for the third quarter of 2004 by mid-December.
"In the course of the company's reviews over the last two weeks, we have found a level of revenue restatement which warrants that we undertake a deliberate, focused but bounded double-checking of several revenue areas," Nortel president and chief executive Bill Owens said Thursday. "We have taken this decision to postpone our filings as a prudent measure to take the steps needed to ensure that we have captured all necessary corrections and adjustments in our restated results."
Owens, a former director, was named president and CEO in April, after the firm fired three of its top executives, including its former chief executive, and said that it would restate results as far back as 2001.
Nortel, which is under investigation by U.S. and Canadian securities regulators in connection with its past restatements, is the subject of criminal probes in the United States and in Canada. In August, the company fired seven more of its finance executives and said that it would trim roughly 10 percent of its workforce by the end of the year in an effort to cut costs.
Nortel increased previous revenue adjustments, which it said would cut revenue by $600 million in 1999 and $2.5 billion in 2000. Of the amount in 2000, about $250 million will be permanently reversed, while the remainder will be deferred and recognized in later years. It also revised revenue adjustments that increased annual revenues by 8 percent in 2001, 4 percent in 2002 and 5 percent in 2003 (adjusted from a previously announced 7 percent, 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively). Nortel said that it will cut net earnings for 2003 by 35 percent, down from the 50 percent previously announced.
The company is discussing other accounting matters with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its historical and continuing accounting treatment of revenues recognized on sales of certain optical products containing embedded software.
Nortel also said that its shares could be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange if it fails to file its 2003 annual reports with the SEC and the Ontario Securities Commission by Dec. 15.
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