Whenever a company like

Action Performance


announces it'll miss earnings estimates in the fourth quarter you know one thing: The auditors found something they didn't like. The fourth quarter is when auditors do the bulk of their scrutiny before they bless the books.

Now, under pressure from the

Securities and Exchange Commission

to get extra tough, they're going all out at


companies -- especially those under a cloud of controversy -- to make sure the numbers add up. Short-sellers have claimed for more than a year that the numbers didn't add up at Action, which makes


collectibles, and apparently this time the auditors agreed. Ever since the company's fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, it's been one disaster after another, starting with Action's disclosure

last month that its fourth-quarter earnings would miss analyst estimates by as much as half.

Then, a few weeks ago, Action abruptly

canceled a presentation at an investment conference -- usually not a good sign. That was followed by the departures of several

high-level execs, including the

head of marketing, whose promotion was touted just last week. (Another ominous sign.)

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That brings us to yesterday, when Action made a series of disclosures, including the news that its fiscal first-quarter results would miss analyst estimates and that it would delay indefinitely the public offering of its


subsidiary. (The IPO was considered a crucial part of the company's story.) Action blamed the latest problems on delays encountered in completing and implementing special promotional programs. The company also confirmed what this column reported earlier this week: The exec who was promoted last week, Howard Jacobs, is no longer with the company.

Whatever the explanation, the


of the story will likely to be buried in the fine print of Action's 10-K, which is due to be filed with the SEC by Dec. 31.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.