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What: Shares of Chinese commercial-vehicle leasing company AutoChina
So what: If you're sick of hearing about questionable things going on at U.S.-listed Chinese companies, then I suggest you quickly close your eyes and hit the "back" button on your browser. AutoChina announced yesterday that it will delay the filing of its annual report and restate financials going back to 2009. The restatement involves a very generous earn-out provision that the company realized that it wasn't accounting for properly. That actually shouldn't be a big deal because it will likely be accounting adjustments rather than changes to the underlying business results.
However, the company also announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a non-public investigation into the company and it has given both the company and one of its officers a subpoena for information. Details were understandably sparse and we do preach "innocent until proven guilty" in the States, but this looks terrible to outsiders given what's going on with many U.S.-listed Chinese companies.
Now what: I actually raised a red flag about AutoChina back in the fall of last year, due to the fact that little of the company's reported profits actually turned into cash (which continues to this day) and it had quite a few "related party" transactions that just didn't look kosher to me. An SEC investigation doesn't prove anything, so loyal investors may want to hang around to see what the actual outcome is. Given what's been going on, though, I'm having trouble giving the benefit of the doubt in situations like this.
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