It's been quite some time since I've heard mention of AOL Latin America
Back in 2000, some investors might have had high hopes for this stock, which brandished the powerful brand of Time Warner's
Of course, as far back as this company's been publicly traded, it was obvious that the risks were there, whether it was playing within an exciting emerging market or not. See this Take from right here at The Motley Fool in 2000. Among other things (including investors' lackluster enthusiasm for the stock in the first place), it points out that America Online -- even when it was still mighty -- didn't want to assume the financial risks for this baby and instead spun it out as its own venture.
Judging by the string of Securities and Exchange Commission filings from AOL Latin America over the months, though, it's clear that any investors who were trying to keep abreast of goings-on might have a lot of work to do -- all in SEC legalese, seeing as how it seems the company had given up on jazzy press announcements altogether. Meanwhile, maybe investors were feeling a bit comforted that AOL Latin America was giving its management team some hefty bonuses earlier in March, according to an 8-K filed then. Talk about today being a time for some self-righteous indignation.
Today, AOL Latin America said it is quickly running out of cash and may be forced to file for bankruptcy if it isn't able to sell all its assets. It has enough cash to last through the third quarter of this year, but it may be in default with its distant relation, Time Warner, to which it owes $160 million in the form of senior convertible notes. It has other creditors, too.
If you read the 8-K, there's a lot of tragedy, even in addition to the above. Take, for example, this gem: "Even if we are successful in selling all of our businesses, the proceeds will not be sufficient to repay the senior convertible notes, and none of those proceeds will be available to our common stockholders. As a result, we do not believe that our common stock has, or will have, any value."
This word wiped out most of what little value was left in the shares, which recently lost 60% to fall to $0.18 per share -- but geez, the company itself said it's worth zilcho.
Unfortunately, AOL Latin America's fate is almost too much deja vu to be true -- it smacks of that same lesson that many people learned from 2000 on. After all, here's a company that has been dragging itself along on net losses, falling sales, too much debt, and a whole lot of dreams.
For the whole sad story, click here to read the official SEC filing. Time Warner is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. To find out what other stocks Tom and David Gardner believe will reward investors, try it for six months risk free.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.