PNC Restates 2001 Results Again on Bookkeeping Error

Regional bank PNC Financial Services Group Inc. on Tuesday said another bookkeeping error will force it to revise downward its 2001 net profits for the second time in four weeks. The news sent its stock price lower.

The latest restatement, although relatively small, comes at a time when investors are acutely concerned about corporate accounting practices following the collapse of energy trader Enron Corp.

Shares of PNC and other banks and brokers fell amid the Wall Street jitters. PNC was off $1.95, or 3.4 percent, at $55 in early afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

``PNC made themselves look quite stupid today,'' UBS Warburg analyst Diane Glossman said.

U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Andy Collins said, "They have continued to stumble their way through reporting. Stumble is the appropriate way to look at it. First they guided down on the fourth quarter, then they had this issue with accounting for special-purpose vehicles. And now this, with the accounting for the way they spun off the mortgage bank.

``It's one thing after another, and people are starting to question accounting at all the banks.''

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Inc. (NYSE:JPM - news) shares were down 2.2 percent, or 65 cents, to $29.40, Citigroup (NYSE:C - news) fell nearly 3 percent, or $1.31, to $42.82, and FleetBoston Financial Corp. (NYSE:FBF - news) dropped 3.65 percent, or $1.21, to $31.98.

PNC said the latest accounting mistake relates to the sale of its residential mortgage business and will reduce its 2001 net earnings by $35 million.

It said that in closing the sale of the business, an entry was incorrectly charged to retained earnings instead of through discontinued operations. As a result, income from discontinued operations for last year will fall to $5 million.

PNC said it discovered the mistake in its year-end review. The error does not change its balance sheet or income from continuing operations as estimated on Jan. 29, or cash proceeds from the mortgage banking operation's sale, it said.

On Jan. 29 the bank restated its 2001 net earnings downward by $155 million, to $412 million, to comply with a regulatory request that it consolidate three special-purpose entities established to hold problem loans and that it move some problem loans back onto its balance sheet.

The latest revision would reduce 2001 net earnings to $377 million.

PNC on Tuesday affirmed its previous 2002 earnings guidance of $4.60 per share. Analysts expect earnings of about $4.55 per share, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.