It just gets more and more difficult to see any reason why an investor would be interested in Bally Total Fitness
On Monday Bally's shares fell nearly 4% following the company's announcement that its financial statements and financial communications from 2000 to 2003 -- as well as the first quarter of 2004 -- "should no longer be relied upon." This isn't the first time the company has restated results in recent periods: In 2003 the company reworked past results, including those from the periods to be tackled in this latest restatement, cutting 2002 and 2001 revenues and net income.
One might have hoped things were clearing up when the company and auditor Ernst & Young agreed to part ways in March -- KPMG came on in May -- following the close of Bally's Q1 books. At the time, Bally said accounting changes put into place would make its "business and financials more transparent to analysts and investors."
But it warned later on in the year that the problems persisted and more restatements were likely. The confirmation came yesterday. Investors, including big ones with large stakes, haven't been pleased. Though it's halfway through November, meanwhile, the company hasn't released financial results since Q1 -- and those aren't much use anyway for the time being.
Investors in troubled situations might be interested in an aggressively branded company with an interesting position in a promising market as its shares fall. But Bally nevertheless carries a good deal more long-term debt than cash, and its operating picture is only getting blurrier. And I'd expect significant shareholder upheaval at -- or even before -- next year's annual meeting. Actually, that might be a good thing: It would take some substantial change to interest me in this company's stubs.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own shares of Bally's -- or work out much.