Why Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. Shares Are Hurting Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HTZ  ) have lost roughly 9% of their value today after briefly plunging to a loss of over 11% at the opening bell. Investors are fleeing the stock after Hertz disclosed in a SEC filing that it would delay its first-quarter earnings report and redo its financial statements from 2011 through 2013 as a result of errors in its 2011 financial statements.

So what: According to the SEC filing, Hertz's 2011 10-K was calculated erroneously in regards to "the capitalization and timing of depreciation for certain non-fleet assets, allowances for doubtful accounts in Brazil, as well as other items." There were also errors relating to "allowances for uncollectible amounts with respect to renter obligations for damaged vehicles and restoration obligations at the end of facility leases." As a result of these errors, Hertz now cautions the public that its 2011 filings should not be relied on for an accurate reporting of finances, and 2012's and 2013's statements may also turn out to be inaccurate enough to require restatement as well.

Hertz has essentially rebuilt its accounting and compliance team to remedy this problem, as CFO Thomas C. Kennedy, Chief Accounting Officer Robin Kramer, and VP of Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance Randy Walford were all hired after the period in question, which stretches through all of 2011, 2012, and 2013. Kennedy came on board in mid-December of 2013, while Kramer and Walford were both hired within the past two months. Hertz also expects first-quarter results to come in below consensus as a result of compliance-related costs and other unusual items.

Now what: Hertz's valuation had been edging higher since the start of 2013, but as the company's financial statements from the past three years are now questionable, it's senseless to try to accurately assess the worth of buying in today, particularly after shares have already been on a two-year tear that's doubled their value. Half of that was due to P/E growth, so between the cloud of noncompliance and Hertz's recent history of rising valuations, it seems best to wait on the sidelines for the time being.

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Alex Planes

Alex Planes specializes in the deep analysis of tech, energy, and retail companies, with a particular focus on the ways new or proposed technologies can (and will) shape the future. He is also a dedicated student of financial and business history, often drawing on major events from the past to help readers better understand what's happening today and what might happen tomorrow.

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