Investors already worried about the direction youth-oriented retailer and marketer Alloy (NASDAQ:ALOY) is heading got a bit more to worry about last week with the company's Friday afternoon announcement that it would delay the filing of its 10-K with the SEC until (it says) April 30. That in itself is always sad news for investors, but the reason given in this case only makes matters worse.

We took a look at Alloy not too long ago, when the company reported full fiscal year (ended Jan. 31) financial results that revealed a substantial net loss and a big gain in operating expenses. The company seemingly rounded the corner in fiscal 2003, turning in a net profit and generating free cash flow -- but investors weren't too happy with the change in direction.

That change, however, occurred for a reason. Alloy invested heavily in its business in fiscal 2004, netting several acquisitions and greatly increasing its outlay for staff, technology, sales, and marketing. The company insisted it met its financial targets for the year and, with a decent financial picture and ambitious management, you'd think investors might be more understanding. Nonetheless, the company's shares have only fallen since those numbers were released.

Friday's news helps us understand part of the reason. One of Alloy's key moves was the purchase of dELia*s, which sells and markets to young girls and quickly began contributing to top-line growth after the company splashed out approximately $50 million for it in September. The delay in the 10-K filing, Alloy said, was caused by "additional audit procedures associated with the company's acquisition of dELiA*s ... [as] the auditors were unable to complete their audit of such statements, by April 15, 2004 without unreasonable effort or expense."

This reads very much like boilerplate language and doesn't appear to be reason for panic. Still, that doesn't mean investors should be pleased that more information about their company's new direction is being delayed, particularly in context of Alloy's aggressive new strategy and return to unprofitability. Furthermore, the dELiA*s dilemma and other matters meant its last quarterly report was filed late as well.

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Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own shares of Alloy.