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Health Stocks in Motion

Updated from 2:20 p.m. EDT

Shares of OCA (OCA) were among the worst-performing health-related stocks Tuesday, falling 38.5% after the company said its annual and first-quarter report would be delayed because of accounting errors that occurred during the first three quarters of 2004.

The business services and systems provider to orthodontic and dental practices said that it discovered errors in its calculation of patient receivables for 2004 and that patient receivables that were reported for the first three quarters of 2004 were overstated by material amounts. OCA is also reviewing a number of other accounting issues and accounts. So far, the company has identified a number of potential accounting errors from prior periods.

Lenders have agreed to extend the filing deadlines under OCA's senior credit facility until June 30. The company, however, anticipates that its financial reports will be delayed beyond June 30, which will force it to seek an additional extension of time and waiver. The extension under the credit facility, the company said, limits the amount that OCA may borrow under the line of credit -- at least until the company files its financial reports. As a result, OCA's chief executive, Bart Palmisano Sr., has agreed to extend a $2 million unsecured loan to the company. In an effort to cut costs, the company also said that it would terminate the lease on an aircraft that's owned by an affiliate of Palmisano's. The move is expected to save the company about $1.1 million annually.

Finally, OCA said that it has appointed a special committee to review certain journal entries in the company's general ledger, the circumstances under which they originated, and their impact on the company's financial statements. Moreover, the committee is reviewing certain alleged changes in data provided to the company's registered public accounting firm. Pending completion of the committee's internal review, Bart Palmisano Jr., the company's chief operating officer, has been placed on administrative leave. Shares of OCA traded down $1.55 to $2.48.
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