NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Appliance maker Sunbeam Corp. gave investors another dose of bad news Thursday.
In a blunt statement, the company warned it will have to restate earnings for all of 1997 and is examining financial results going back to 1996. In all, earnings for nine quarters may have to be revised.
The news further depressed Sunbeam (SOC) shares, sending them down 1 to 7. That's substantially lower than its 52-week high of 53.
Although Wall Street has known for some time that Sunbeam would have to adjust its earnings, the scope of the change caught most by surprise.
David Tice, manager of the Prudent Bear Fund, said the company's acknowledgments were not good news.
"This really calls into question the financial accounting and results for a long period of time. And some of these results were audited. That's very disturbing," he said.
In addition, Sunbeam is delaying the release of its earnings for its fiscal second quarter until late September. That means shareholders will wait until the fall for the bad news to be quantified.
With dozens of shareholder lawsuits and an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under way, the clouds over the company continue to darken.
In other news, Sunbeam said former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Albert J. "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap and Russell Kersh, who was fired from the chief financial officer post, both were leaving the company's board.
The company said it will not make any severance payments Dunlap.
Sunbeam will, however, pay Dunlap accrued vacation pay of about $52,000 under his 1996 employment agreement, the company said.
Kersh also won't receive any severance but will get accrued vacation pay of about $68,000 under his 1996 contract.
Dunlap and Kersh also agreed not to take legal action against Sunbeam for a period of six months.
The agreements represent an olive branch between Sunbeam and Dunlap, who for weeks have waged informational campaigns as part of the acrimonious dispute that erupted following his June 15 ouster.
But the company emphasized the two executives haven't agreed to work with Sunbeam in fighting shareholder lawsuits, contrary to a report in Wednesday's New York Times.
Consistent with its by-laws, Sunbeam will advance the two former executives legal defense costs. Dunlap and Kersh have agreed to reimburse these costs to the company in certain circumstances.
Also, Sunbeam said William T. Rutter has resigned as an outside director. Rutter is a senior vice president of First Union National Bank of Florida, a unit of one of Sunbeam's bank lenders.
Larry Sondike, a senior vice president of Franklin Mutual Advisers Inc., has joined the board. Franklin Mutual is Sunbeam's largest shareholder.