Dell’s announcement today that the company would delay the filing of its Form 10-Q for its fiscal second quarter ended August 4, 2006 did not come as a surprise, after the company had confirmed an “informal investigation” into accounting issues last month. However, the simple fact that Dell apparently will miss the filing deadline, will raise additional concerns and clearly contradicts CFO Jim Schneider’s initial believe that the SEC probe wasn’t a big deal.
Dell today said that the investigations “have indicated the possibility of misstatements in prior period financial reports, including issues relating to accruals, reserves and other balance sheet items that may affect the company’s previously reported financial results.” The company did not say whether stock options backdating, which are currently at the center of numerous SEC investigations, were part of those “misstatements”.
While the company said that it plans to file its 10-Q documents as soon as possible, Don Carty, chairman of the audit committee reviewing the matter conceded that “we have not yet reached any conclusion on materiality as to these issues.” Dell confirmed that it has suspended its stock repurchase program as a result of the investigation.
Dell revealed the existence of the SEC probe on 17 August. Schneider then told analysts that “this has gone on in a deliberate process for about a year.” From a situation the company considered as insignificant originally, more people got involved which prompted the company to “disclose this publicly.”