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, the maker of consumer appliances, said an investigation by the

Securities and Exchange Commission

, dating back to June 1998 and regarding its accounting practices, has ended.

The company is now in talks with the regulatory agency about possible legal action.

In a quarterly filing with the SEC, the Boca Raton, Fla., company also reported that it has been giving documents to agency investigators since the probe started two years ago. However, the company refused to hand over certain material that it believed was subject to attorney-client privilege.

In March 1998,

Morgan Stanley


First Union



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, which later merged with


, underwrote a $1.7 billion loan for Sunbeam's acquisitions of consumer-products companies



Signature Brands USA


First Alert

. By June 1998, the three lenders found it difficult to parcel out the loan as Sunbeam's accounting practices were questionable.

Sunbeam posted a third-quarter loss on Wednesday of $84.1 million, or 78 cents a share, compared with a loss of $47 million, or 47 cents a share last year. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 58 cents a share, according to a poll by

First Call/Thomson Financial

. Quarterly sales dropped to $466 million from $602 million amid product line divestitures and lagging demand for Y2K-related products.

The company also said it expects the retail environment in the fourth quarter to be unfavorable.