If you want to determine Dell Inc.'s true financial condition, you may have to wait several weeks or longer. Much depends on how long the PC, server and consumer electronics company takes to provide regulators with detailed and updated results.
Dell, a publicly traded company and the world's second-biggest PC vendor, has not submitted required financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission for its last three quarters and plans to restate annual submissions for the last four fiscal years.
Dell reported results for its fiscal 2008 second quarter ended Aug. 3 this week, but promptly warned investors, in the spirit of full disclosure, that it wasn't standing by the results because they could "change to reflect any necessary corrections or adjustments, or changes in accounting estimates."
Furthermore, Dell warned that the latest quarterly results were not comparable to the year-ago quarter. To buttress the point, the company did not publish last year's resultsa customary practice in financial resultsin announcing its performance for the last quarter.
"All financial results described in this press release, as well as the previously announced financial results for the second, third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2007, and first quarter of fiscal 2008, should be considered preliminary, and are subject to change to reflect any necessary corrections or adjustments," the company said in a statement.
To further drive home its point, Dell did not host the traditional conference call with analysts that typically follows the release of corporate earnings. Could this have been because the company wasn't prepared to answer questions related to the results?
Additionally, Dell provided no financial guidance for the current quarter or the rest of its fiscal year, further clouding investors' and analysts' visibility into the company's operations.
One of the few chances to understand Dell's finances will come next week (Sept. 5) at Citigroup's 14th annual Global Technology Conference. There, Dell chairman and CEO Michael Dell is scheduled to make a presentation on his company's status.
But it's possible the Dell CEO won't answer burning questions about the company's finances from analysts and reporters. For a deeper insight into the company's finances, investors may have to wait until Nov. 12, the deadline the Nasdaq Stock Market has given Dell to submit all outstanding financial fillings.
Until then, Dell investors, suppliers and customers will have to assume that the company remains viable. If not, they won't even have company management to blame for their erroneous assumption.