What happened

Shares of technology consulting firm Unisys (UIS 0.46%) crashed 48.2% today, as of 12:25 p.m. ET.

The company reported its third-quarter earnings last night and gave full-year guidance, both of which were somewhat disappointing but likely not enough to warrant such a massive drop. However, the company also disclosed it was delaying the release of its Form 10-Q, and that it was launching an internal investigation regarding accounting issues within the company.

Investors never like to hear that a company's numbers may have to be restated in any way, and that lack of trust is probably why the stock is down so much.

So what

In the third quarter, Unisys reported a 5.5% revenue decline, missing expectations, while net losses per share of -$0.59 missed the mark as well by $0.01.

Currency played a big role here; on a constant-currency basis, revenue would have grown 0.3%. However, that is still disappointing, as the global economic slowdown is causing companies to tap the brakes on their investment in digital transformation. Unisys also revised downward its fiscal-year revenue guidance to between a 5.5% and 3.5% decline, as opposed to prior guidance between a 1% decline and 1% growth.

In addition, the company filed a Form 12b-25, disclosing it is "unable to file, without unreasonable effort and expense and within the prescribed time period, its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2022."

Elaborating on the shortfall, management said the audit committee of the board of directors would conduct an investigation "regarding certain disclosure controls and procedures matters, including, but not limited to, the dissemination and communication of information within certain parts of the organization." The company also said that the results of the investigation could result in a conclusion that the company doesn't have effective internal controls over financial reporting.

Now what

Given that Unisys is a consulting firm that helps other companies get their IT departments organized and running, it's not a great look to have a problem within your own organization, even if the problem is financial, not IT-related.

Still, for investors who seek out beaten-down deep-value stocks, Unisys could be an interesting opportunity after today's massive decline. Its market cap has fallen to just $316 million, while the company has $351 million in cash.

Unisys also has roughly $500 million in long-term debt as well, but it's still quite a low valuation, given that the consulting company is a relatively asset-light operation.

Moreover, the reported results weren't a total disaster. Annual contract value, or the amount of revenue expected to be realized from signed contracts within the year, grew 20%, while total contract value grew 31%, even as headline revenue slowed. That could mean Unisys is signing lots of deals, but customers have been slow to implement them as the macroeconomic picture deteriorated quickly in the third quarter.

Still, it's a bit hard to trust the numbers as long as this accounting issue is outstanding. Provided past numbers aren't restated significantly, Unisys could be a bargain; however, it's a risky bet, since investors won't know how dependable its numbers are until the investigation is finished.