HMT Finally Takes a Big Hit, and Iomega's Big Bull Backs Off

Also, more on Planet Hollywood and eFax.
Publish date:

Tuesday's Trash (Otherwise Known as New News on Old News):

HMT hotline, redux:

HMT Technology


, no stranger to this column, finally conceded what short-sellers suspected all along when it disclosed late yesterday that it's the latest victim of the fourth quarter from hell. And its fourth quarter isn't even over yet, which means the audit hasn't yet been done.

Late yesterday the maker of the disks used in PC hard drives said it will report a fourth-quarter loss, and, worse, its fourth-quarter revenues will be 15% to 20% below the $69.8 million it reported in the third quarter. That's right, it'll report a sequential


quarter, and it says it won't have further comment until April 20.

Whaddaya expect when your top customers include Iomega (IOM) and Maxtor (MXTR) ?

As this column previously

reported, this is the same company whose insiders, including CEO Ron Schauer and venture investors, late last year filed to sell roughly the equivalent of 10% of the company's outstanding shares when it was trading around 12. At yesterday's close the stock was trading at 3 7/8; the betting, in the short-selling community, is that today it will be closer to 2.

Speaking of which, more Iomega insanity:

Enough, already, I know! But the story continues to unfold. The latest twist: Longtime bull Joe Besecker of

Emerald Research

downgraded the stock to a neutral, based on a quarter that he says is well below expectations. He says he expects the company to lose 3 cents a share in the current quarter, with the year coming in at a profit of 25 cents per share (down from his previous estimates of a positive 2 cents and 41 cents, respectively).

Besecker adds that he believes it's time for the company to "better articulate" its long-term strategy.

Good point, especially since the company's just-released 10-K disclosed that backlog at the end of January had tumbled to $71 million from more than $200 million a year earlier. The company also disclosed that it has, once again, rejiggered its agreements with its bankers as they pertain to the required minimum level of EBITDA required for its fiscal first and second quarters. The last time the company redid a bank deal was last June, "and we delivered on everything we said we were going to do," says Treasurer Rob Simmons (a straight shooter if there ever was one). "...However, we told them we needed more room here, which is normal."

Normal, maybe, but not a good sign at a company that trades at such a hefty multiple to its disk-drive peers and its book value.

The back-to-back blows that HMT and Iomega have taken are a double-header for

Salomon Smith Barney

analyst John Dean, who has held buys on both companies as they swooned. Ya think that the fact Salomon did a secondary and subordinated debt offering for HMT (at much higher prices) has anything to do with it? (Hope springs eternal, no doubt, for another deal.) Dean couldn't be reached.

And ... cut!:

Planet Hollywood


late yesterday said that it's trying to negotiate various financing alternatives to raise the cash it sorely needs. Then, at the bottom of the press release, it added, oh, by the way, that it won't be able to make a scheduled $15 million interest payment on its 12% senior subordinated notes due April 1. However, it could be worse: It still has a 30-day grace period to make the payment.

Bring on the Prince!

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

, of course, owns more than 15% of the hobbled restaurant chain. In Sunday's

New York Times

he disclosed Planet Hollywood is the worst performing of all his investments.

eFax, fixed:

Why is it whenever I

complain in this public space about


(EFAX) - Get Report

, which operates a service that delivers faxes directly to your email, that same day I miraculously get an email saying that my problem has been fixed? (Just a coincidence?) First time it took a week to get a number. Once I got the number, it didn't work. Now the number works and the faxes are pouring in! For free. I have no idea about the biz model or how they plan to make money, but as a customer (not an investor) I really don't care. This is the type of service, if it's dependable, that I would pay for!

No offense intended:

An item here

yesterday used the word "gypped" in a headline. Apparently that is derived from the word "gypsy" and when used as I did, according to several readers, may have been deemed to be derogatory to gypsies.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at Greenberg writes a monthly column for Fortune and provides commentary for CNBC.