RALEIGH — Remember when all the Chicken Little types screamed and ran like heck from Red Hat stock a few weeks back?
CFO Kevin Thompson left, word came that PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Linux software developer disagreed on booking of some revenue, and then Red Hat said earnings would have to be re-stated.
Boom — all the good news that had driven Red Hat stock over the previous year based on growth and profits to above $29 a share vanished quicker than chickens running under the henhouse to escape a fox.
Next came the lawyers and a chorus of cackles charging abuse and fleecing of the red Fedora faithful.
Fast forward to this week.
Without any crowing from Red Hat, the company quietly released its restated earnings. No press release. Just a notice that a SEC filing had been made.
And you know what? There’s virtually no change!
Half of Red Hat’s stock value disappeared in a stampede over a drop of — get this — less than $2 million in revenue for fiscal 2003 out of $124,737 million.
Red Hat’s profits were slashed to $13,732,000 — down from $13,998.000.
Money is money, so let’s not understate the significance of the new numbers. Still, the press has largely ignored the story. How would it have reacted to a restatement involving $10 million?
Red Hat had already revised its quarterly earnings for the most recent reporting period to $10.9 million and 6 cents a share, up $200,000 or a penny.
However, the restatement story is far from over. The lawsuits will continue, and Red Hat is setting up a war chest to fight the court battles. The matrix of problems produced by Thompson’s exit, the earnings report and everything else did batter Red Hat’s image. But the worst could be past for the Hatters.
Analyst firm gives Red Hat a boost
Credit Suisse First Boston seems to think so. According to Forbes, the analyst firm issued a report saying Red Hat’s filing “will significantly reduce” some of the uncertainty about the stock.
It also set a target price of $27. “We remain buyers at current levels,” the report said, describing Red Hat shares (Nasdaq: RHAT), which closed at $16.59 on Thursday, at $27.
The analysts did note that the CFO departure and other fallout hurt the credibility of management. But it described the refilling as a “relatively immaterial accounting restatement.”
Red Hat spent heaven knows how much recalculating its earnings for three years. The new numbers changed subscription revenue from $83.755 million in ’03 to $87.855 million; $48.592 million in ’02 to $47.941 million; and $42.300 million in 0’1 to $42.893 — a gain.
Other figures changed slightly.
Good news on lawsuit front?
Red Hat executives were in San Francisco this week at LinuxWorld touting new deals, improved security certification for its enterprise servers, and such. Matthew Szulik, the CEO, delivered a keynote.
SCO Group lost a round in the legal fight with Linux users over its Unix code in Michigan where a suit against DaimlerChrysler was thrown out. But SCO said this week it has not thrown in the towel and will continue its fight against IBM and others. So the legal cloud hanging over Linux is not yet removed.
But at least at Red Hat the sky is no longer falling — today.
Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.