Able Telcom Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: ABTEE) (Price: $6.9375) expects to recognize a $3.3 million loss on the purchase of its notes and $10 million on the purchase of its Series B preferred stock. These $13.3 million of losses do not include the material charges to income that may result from Able’s modification of its preferred and warrant agreements. These events occurred in 1999. According to Arthur Anderson LLP (“Arthur Anderson”), Able’s seventh auditor in 10 years, these transactions would have reduced basic earnings per share by $1.95 and shareholders’ equity by $9.3 million in 1998. Using Arthur Anderson’s figures, Able’s tangible stockholders’ equity at October 31, 1998 would be negative $0.5 million. Able’s negative equity may be greater as of January 31, 1999, which is the end of its first quarter. As a result, Able’s stockholders’ equity may be insufficient to meet the minimum qualifications to continue to list and trade Able’s shares on NASDAQ.
This negative equity resulted despite Arthur Anderson allowing Able to book at least a $15.1 million non-cash, non-operating increase to income in 1998. In fact, Arthur Anderson made a number of other serious and highly questionable allowances that had a large, artificially positive impact on Able’s 1998 statements. These included allowing Able to book a $40.1 million reserve by simultaneously creating $38.8 million in goodwill, and omitting Able’s 1998 pro forma net loss from its pro forma disclosures. As a result of this omission Arthur Anderson’s statement does not disclose MFS’ 1998 first half loss of $21.5 million. We firmly believe that Arthur Anderson’s audit opinion, consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes each materially misrepresent Able’s actual insolvent condition.
Arthur Anderson rendered their opinion on Able’s October 31, 1998 statements on February 17, 1998. On February 17th Able used an advance under its existing WorldCom Master Agreement to purchase through an affiliate its defaulted securities (“event”). Apparently, Arthur Anderson believed that it could rely on this event, which occurred 109 days after the audit’s “as of” date, to avoid a going concern qualification. This serious timing discrepancy, along with Able’s continuing grave financial condition after the event, make Arthur Anderson’s decision extremely questionable. Furthermore, Arthur Anderson’s opinion is dated after the end of the first quarter. This creates the possibility that investors may believe Arthur Anderson’s opinion is current. It is not. Most importantly, when describing the event Arthur Anderson failed to specifically disclose Able’s repeated failure to repay the notes when due, to obtain needed funding and to meet its preferred holders’ redemption demand. We firmly believe that Arthur Anderson’s conduct and material omissions are flagrantly fraudulent.
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