7 Aug 2013

Diligent delivers blow to investor confidence

7:07 am on 7 August 2013

Software company Diligent delivered yet another blow to investor confidence with its admission its financial accounts for the past three years and for the March quarter are inaccurate and unreliable.

Diligent shares have fallen from $8.20 in early June to $5.80 on Tuesday.

The misreporting essentially boils down to Diligent recognising sales too soon and to writing off development costs against profits rather than treating them as capital spending.

Milford Asset Management analyst Mark Warminger said his firm had lost patience with Diligent, at least for now.

"The thing with Diligent is that they've obviously had a large amount of issues in terms of their options package for senior executives, in handing out too many options, so they've had that issue to deal with.

"After that we've had the revenue recognition error as well, which means the accounts for 2010, 2011, 2012 need to be restated."

As well, there could be regulatory actions around lack of compliance with New Zealand and the United States, Mr Warminger said.

The company had been the "darling" of the New Zealand Stock Exchange but was now surrounded by uncertainty, he said.

"So there's some water to go under the bridge here but in the meantime, it's just a very large amount of uncertainty of where this ends up and whether there's any more skeletons in the closet to come out."

Earlier this year, Milford owned 9% - or nearly 7.4 million - of Diligent's shares. It now owns only a few thousand shares.