NEW YORK – Computer Associates International Inc. said on Friday it is the subject of two government probes, sending its stock to a seven-year low as the software company lurches from one crisis to the next.
The news of inquiries by the U.S. Attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission came the day after Computer Associates disclosed it drew $600 million from one credit line to pay off another, leading to concerns about its ability to access debt markets.
The No. 4 software company has been battered by concerns ranging from the debt situation to its accounting practices, and its stock has lost about half its value over the past month.
Chief Executive Sanjay Kumar said on Friday that the company was not sure what the preliminary investigations were about.
"We have asked to meet with both organizations," he said. "Obviously, we're still trying to determine the full scope of those inquires. We'd like to know what's going on."
Computer Associates fell to $15.90 on Instinet after falling $2.82 during regular trading hours to close at $15.99 on the New York Stock Exchange. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's said after the close it revised its outlook on triple-'B'-plus Computer Associates to negative from stable.
In the past week, Newsday has reported that the regulatory and law enforcement bodies were investigating whether Computer Associates recorded some of its maintenance agreements as software sales in order to boost its recorded revenue.
The newspaper said its sources stressed that the probe was in its early stages and there was no firm evidence that the company did anything illegal.
Representatives from the U.S. government agencies have declined to comment on the reports.
"It's all a crisis of confidence that's grown out of Enron, Global Crossing and some of these so-called new economy companies," said SoundView Technology Group analyst Jim Mendelson. "CA is not one of those companies."
The company said on Thursday it had planned to repay the credit line it had drawn upon with proceeds from a $1 billion planned bond offering. That offering was canceled earlier this month after Moody's Investor Service said it would review a possible downgrade of Computer Associates' credit rating.
Investors are also watching the commercial paper market.
Debt concerns at No. 4 U.S. local telephone company Qwest Communications International Inc. and conglomerate Tyco International Ltd. surfaced when they chose to draw down bank credit lines because they couldn't raise money through the sale of short-term debt.
"Right now nobody has confidence in audited financial statements, or attestations by lawyers or auditors or analysts for that matter," Mendelson said.
So far, none of the maladies have appeared to hurt Computer Associates' business, analysts said.
"The question is ... have (customers) seen any evidence to suggest that this is a company under duress, wheeling and dealing, aggressively trying to close business," Mendelson said, "The hard part on this subject is that all these companies are aggressively trying to close business."