In an escalating public relations battle between Wall Street and beleaguered Internet giant
New York Society of Security Analysts
made public a letter it sent to each of the online retailer's board members, demanding the company address concerns that it gives obfuscating financial information to analysts and investors.
The latest development follows a
letter dated March 8 that was addressed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and went unanswered. The society, which has held a series of public forums on Amazon's finances, has raised a series of questions over how the company reports its finances and communicates with investors.
"Amazon's management has publicly stated that they have neglected to give you my March 8, 2001 letters, which asks for board responses to issues presented by the Amazon Forum being conducted by the New York Society of Security Analysts' Committee for Corporate Governance," says the letter, signed by investment banker Gary Lutin, chairman of the forum.
According to published reports, Amazon has refused to respond to the letter because it claims to do so would constitute a violation of securities regulations that prohibit disclosure of information to a select group of people. Lutin counters that the forums have been open to the public and the media.
This is only the latest in a long series of events that have led Amazon from Wall Street darling to Wall Street pariah. Although the company has said it will finally become profitable on a limited basis in the fourth quarter of 2001, the debate over how to value the company is as lively as ever. But perhaps the top concern of the moment is whether the company has enough cash on hand to pay its bills as it drives to profitability. This has been an especially colorful debate, sparked by a report by
debt analyst Ravi Suria that argued the company could face tighter credit terms from its suppliers, a development that could seriously damage Amazon's viability as a business.
Amazon representatives didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. The online retailer's shares were down 50 cents Friday at $10.38, putting them some 87% off their 52-week high.