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IBM Settles SEC Securities Probe

The move settles a dispute over statements IBM made about its first-quarter earnings in 2005 that the SEC claimed were misleading.

Paul McDougall

June 6, 2007

1 Min Read

IBM said Tuesday that it has agreed to an SEC order under which the computer maker pledges not to violate federal financial reporting regulations.

The move settles a dispute between IBM and the Securities and Exchange Commission over statements IBM made about its first-quarter earnings in 2005 that the SEC claimed were misleading.

Ahead of its 2005 first-quarter report, IBM officials told Wall Street analysts that the company's stock-option expenses would reduce earnings by about 14 cents per share.

Most analysts adjusted their estimates accordingly.

When IBM's stock-option expense for the period turned out to be only 10 cents per share, a number of analysts complained that they were misled into publishing an artificially low estimate.

The lower estimates provided cover for IBM's tepid first-quarter performance in 2005.

The company's earnings of 84 cents per share during the period fell about 7% short of the revised estimates of 90 cents per share. However, the earnings miss would have been a more troubling 12% had analysts used IBM's true stock-options expense of 10 cents in constructing their estimates.

IBM said its settlement with the SEC on the matter isn't an admission of wrongdoing. The company isn't facing any financial penalties as a result, IBM said.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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