For the third time in six months, the world's largest tire maker announced again that it will reduce its earnings by $16 million over five years and will cut shareholder equity as of Sept. 30, 2003, by $23 million.
This comes on the heels of an announcement in October of a mistake -- oops! -- stemming from the introduction of a new computerized accounting system. The snafu will slice up to $85 million off Goodyear's financial results over five years.
Not to be outdone, Goodyear's European units have proven they can't count either. In December, the company launched a probe into improper accounting practices in its European Union operations, which was a shock to many since those units had been viewed as solidly profitable.
Like a car in an uncontrolled skid, Goodyear has been unable to focus on its turnaround plan to cut $1.5 billion by the end of 2005. The latest restatement found a $16 million charge against earnings, largely for understating workers' compensation claims from 1999 to 2003 at one of its domestic plants, though it wouldn't disclose which one. Goodyear said it "separated" several senior managers in its European operations which could mean they were fired, forced to resign, or retired.
That's left the company up on blocks. Goodyear has lost more than $1 billion over the past two years, and has cut 20,000 jobs while closing eight plants worldwide. It's even considered selling some of its non-tire businesses.
Often, a company in crisis can lead to a buying opportunity, as investors overreact to bad news. Think ExxonMobil
Despite Goodyear's balance sheet boasting over $1 billion in cash and equivalents(maybe), the company has several red flags for investors to watch. It has yet to file its amended 2002 annual report. The SEC has launched a formal investigation of its earnings restatements, and Standard & Poor's has put it on CreditWatch with negative implications. Its ability to access the capital markets or remain in compliance with existing debt agreements remains as threadbare as a bald radial.
Goodyear is sitting on four flats with no tow truck in sight.
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Motley Fool contributor Rich Duprey is said to have an uncanny resemblance to the Michelin Man. He does not own any stocks mentioned in this article.