NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of children's clothing maker Carter's Inc. fell on Tuesday after the company said it would have to restate some financial results following a review of its accounting for margin payments to wholesale customers. Shares fell $2.77, or 11.5 percent, to $21.27 during midday trading. The stock has traded between $13.86 and $29.49 over the past year. The company said it will restate earnings for the fiscal years 2004 through 2008, and the quarters between Sept. 29, 2007, and July 4, 2009. The restatement stems from a review by the company's audit committee of accounting for margin support after one customer disputed the amount it received. Carter's said in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission it normally provides margin support in the form of payments to major wholesale customers to assist them with inventory clearance and promotions. Carter's said its policy is to reflect the amounts as reductions to revenue. The review, by the audit committee and outside counsel, is in progress.
Carter's, based in Atlanta, plans to restate financials as soon as possible. "We've initiated a dialogue with the SEC and informed them of this review," said CEO Michael D. Casey. "In addition, we are improving internal controls and management processes to help reduce risks inherent in this component of our business going forward." Sterne Agee analyst Margaret Whitfield said in a note to investors that the restatement and review could result in a change in top management, since Casey, the CEO, was CFO during the time in question. In addition, activist shareholders could seek management change or a change in control, or even interest from private equity or strategic buyers. He maintained his "Buy" rating, however. "Underneath this accounting review, we continue to believe Carter's is having a good year," except for the sales of its clothes to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. she wrote in a client note.