If Shakespeare were to have returned as a stock trader -- which he may have, for all we know -- he wouldn't exactly have been able to term Weatherford International's
It seems that the company has experienced errors in its tax accounting that are expected to result in an adjustment that will lower the company's previously reported results by about $500 million. More specifically, it appears that the company experienced errors in determining the tax effects of inter-company dealings, but the results will have no effect on its operating cash flow or earnings before taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
Weatherford, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the fourth-largest member of the oilfield services contingent by market capitalization. It falls behind Schlumberger
Chief Financial Officer Andrew Becnel referred to the mistake as an "embarrassment." While the damage remains impossible to quantify precisely, it appears that it will result in financial statement adjustments of $100 million to $150 million for each year from 2007 to 2010.
Bernard Duroc-Danner, the company's CEO dispelled notions that there could be a risk of an investigation by the U.S. government. He referred to the errors as mistakes in apportioning the appropriate tax rates when dividends were dispensed between subsidiaries. As a result, the filing of the companies 10-K with regulators will be delayed from Tuesday's due date to a new March 15 deadline.
Prior to the announcement of the mistakes, Weatherford's shares had increased in value about 40% during the past year. On Wednesday, however, they gave back about 10% on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $21.14. Nevertheless, options trading on Weatherford shares was definitely bullish, with call options on the company's stock reaching an unusually high level.
According to Mr. Duroc-Danner and the government filing, events in the Middle East have had some effect on the company's operations. However, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain account for only about 3% of total corporate revenues. And while the analysts' consensus for the first quarter is for earnings to reach about $0.26 per share, it appears that the expectation could be lowered by up to $0.05 by events in the five countries.
Frankly, I'd be hard-pressed to become overly concerned about the accounting-related circumstances at Weatherford. In fact, with the company, like its peers, benefiting from a strong market in North America, I'd urge Fools to monitor Weatherford's progress and results carefully.
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We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.