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comScore Plunges on Accounting Woes

By Timothy Green – Mar 7, 2016 at 12:15PM

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The analytics firm has delayed filing its annual report, and its new share buyback program is on hiatus.

What: Shares of Internet analytics company comScore (SCOR 4.96%) tumbled on Monday after the company announced that it was delaying the filing of its annual report for fiscal 2015. The company also suspended its share repurchase program and postponed its investor day event. At 11:20 a.m. ET, the stock was down about 29%.

Image source: comScore.

So what: According to comScore's SEC filing, the company's board of directors received a message related to potential accounting issues on Feb. 19. comScore filed a Notification of Late Filing with the SEC on Feb. 29, stating that it expected to file its annual report within the 15-day window provided by the form. However, comScore now says that its audit committee does not expect to complete its work prior to the March 15 deadline.

comScore gave no details on the accounting issue causing the delay, and the company does not expect to disclose any information until the audit committee has finished its review. The company's investor day event, previously scheduled for March 16, has been postponed, and the company's $125 million share buyback program, announced on Feb.17 along with comScore's fourth-quarter results, has been suspended.

Now what: With few details provided, the scope of comScore's accounting problems remains unclear. For investors, the best-case scenario would be for the issue to be a minor one, fixed quickly with little to no effect on the company's historical numbers. The worst-case scenario would be broad issues requiring the restating of past results, a process that could drag on for months and seriously alter historical earnings figures.

Because so little is known about the particulars, it's hard to say whether the massive decline in comScore's stock on Monday was justified. Investors will need to wait for additional information from the company, or the eventual filing of its annual report, before the full story is known.

Timothy Green has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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