They're blowing up left and right, and there's a reason: Companies that got aggressive by stuffing the channel with more merchandise than can possibly be absorbed, and/or engaged in aggressive accounting tactics, eventually pay a price. And in each case, investors who smugly ignore the warnings, lulled by the momentum of this stock market, are paying an even bigger price.
Which brings us to the disaster of the day:
, the glove company. This column
questioned whether it was stuffing the channel back in the third quarter.
The company insisted it didn't.
But in yesterday's press release, explaining why the company will experience a sales and earnings shortfall for the first quarter
the year, CEO Richard Jaffe said: "As Safeskin's distributors were coming off allocation in the third quarter of 1998, we were delivering product into our distribution channels to support an expected rapid increase in sales to meet strong market demand for our products. As it turns out, there was more inventory in the system at that time than we had previously estimated and the ramp up of orders from new contracts took longer than anticipated."
Safeskin's stock, which hit a 52-week high of 47 1/8 last year, was at 15 1/4 Thursday before being halted.
: If anything sticks in my craw, it's the
story. Last September I
wrote about the spread between the prices of Brightpoint and
, its chief rival in the biz of distributing cellular phones. At the time I noted a frequent theme in this column: that it's always a real eyebrow-raiser anytime companies in the same industry trade at very different earnings multiples, especially when that business involves products with falling prices and rapid obsolescence. I further wrote that it becomes an outright attention-grabber if both get a big piece of their business from Asia.
At the time Cellstar preannounced a lousy third quarter and warned of possible problems in the fourth, citing international economic troubles and customs and tariff issues in Brazil and China.
I asked Brightpoint at the time if it really was in that much better shape than its competitor. Brightpoint CFO Phil Bounsall told me at the time that there wasn't anything that would suggest that the company's business was suffering from the worldwide economic problems. He added that Brightpoint didn't have any customs or tariff issues because the phones it sold in Brazil and China were made there.
It turns out being "made there" resulted in a lack of supply in China and economic troubles in Brazil finally caught up with Brightpoint. (Officials couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.)
As is often the case, it was only a matter of time.
The North's sorry face:
They never did open
The North Face
Thursday after the company said auditors were looking into some transactions in the fourth quarter of 1997 and the first quarter of 1998 that may force the company to restate all of its 1997 financial results. No surprise
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with the editorial policy of TSC, he does not own or short individual stocks. He also does not invest in hedge funds or any other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at email@example.com. Greenberg writes a monthly column for Fortune and provides daily commentary for CNBC.