Why NQ Mobile Inc Shares Plunged, Then Surged Today

Is NQ Mobile's volatility meaningful? Or just another movement?

Jul 18, 2014 at 12:34PM

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: After initially plunging more than 20% Friday morning, shares of NQ Mobile Inc (NYSE:NQ) jumped more than 14% after the Chinese Internet services specialist announced it has dismissed PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian LLP (PwC) as its Independent Auditor. NQ also announced it has engaged New York-based Marcum Bernstein Pinchuk LLP (MBP) as its new independent auditor and registered public accountant.

So what: The news comes as NQ Mobile continues to battle allegations of fraud from noted short seller Muddy Waters, and follows PwC's recent request to expand the scope of its fiscal 2013 audit of the company. Coupled with a questionable shake-up by NQ of its audit committee and board of directors, that NQ only stated it was "considering" that request caused NQ Mobile stock to drop by as much as 37% in a single day earlier this month. 

Now, however, NQ says PwC's request stems from questions related to NQ's June 4, 2014 press release on the summary findings of PwC's audit, which included descriptions of unexplained missing electronic data collected by the investigation team. "If investigated further," NQ notes PwC warned the expanded work "may cause it to be unwilling to rely on management representations in connection with its audit work."

What's more, NQ says PwC is asking for information "that is not in the possession, custody or control of the company," including "access to multiple third parties' bank statements and financial records." As a result, and given the risk in that it could prevent NQ from filing its overdue annual report on Form 20-F as required for the year 2013, NQ brought on MBP to replace PwC.

Now what: NQ definitely made a gutsy call in bringing another reputable firm on board to take control of its audit work, but to me ditching PwC looks like yet another in a long string of red flags with NQ Mobile. PwC obviously had questions NQ couldn't answer, but it seems crazy to think another auditor will now simply ignore those same questions. As a result, I'm still content staying far away from NQ Mobile.

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