Dell Delays Earnings, Says SEC Probe Intensifies

In a press release issued after the close of business on Wall Street, Dell said it would issue earnings results for its third fiscal quarter of 2007 by the end of November. It had previously been slated to announce them on Thursday.

"The move from the originally scheduled date of November 16 reflects the level of complexity the company is facing in the preparation of its preliminary results," Dell said in the press release. "This complexity arises out of the ongoing investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the company's Audit Committee into certain accounting and financial reporting matters, and the fact the company has not filed its Form 10-Q for the second fiscal quarter. When the company does announce earnings it will be in the form of a press release only."

In saying it would only issue a press release when it finally does reveal its financial results, Dell is leaving open a plethora of questions as it attempts to mount a comeback from a series of financial woes and disappointing performance.

In addition to the SEC and the Audit Committee of its board, Dell's finances are currenty under investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

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In August, Dell officials announced that the SEC had been conducting an "informal" investigation into the company's accounting practices for about a year. In its press release Wednesday night, though, the company made it clear that has changed, too.

"The company also announced it has been informed that the SEC has entered a formal order of investigation," Dell said. "The delay in announcing earnings is not related to that development. Dell continues to cooperate with the SEC, and is committed to resolving all issues in connection with the investigation and regaining compliance with all SEC filing requirements as soon as possible."

Dell had been enjoying a small rebound on Wall Street. Following its announcement on Sept. 11 that it would delay filing its mandatory 10Q report, and that prosecutors had demanded financial information, Dell's shares have climbed. Dell shares closed on NASDAQ Wednesday at $25.75. In after-hours trading, Dell shares dropped by 62 cents.

NASDAQ is also threatening Dell with delisting from its stock exchange, but Dell has requested a hearing.