Sonus Plunges on Delisting Decision

The company emerged from an earlier brush with delisting, but now its luck runs out.
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Friday the 13th is shaping up as an unlucky day for one Chelmsford, Mass., networking shop.

The

Nasdaq

says it will delist

Sonus

(SONSE)

at the opening of trading Friday, relegating the onetime telecom equipment highflier to the so-called pink sheets. The decision came after Sonus, which narrowly avoided being delisted at the end of last month, missed its latest deadline for filing financial results.

Sonus shares plunged 14% early Thursday after the company disclosed Nasdaq's decision. The company filed last week with the Nasdaq for an extension on its second-quarter report, but the exchange nixed that.

"We are extremely disappointed in the Nasdaq's decision," Sonus chief Hassan Ahmed said in a press release. The company says it is working to file the second-quarter results by Aug. 30 and will seek relisting then, though it notes it will have to comply with more-stringent continuing listing standards then.

The reversal comes just two weeks after Sonus shrugged off an earlier brush with delisting. The company said July 28 that it had received a notice that Nasdaq would delist the company Aug. 2 for failure to file in timely fashion with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. But Sonus was able to persuade Nasdaq that by filing restated financials going back three years, it had regained compliance with listing requirements.

Then, last week, Sonus asked Nasdaq for a three-week extension on its results for the second quarter ended June 30. The report was due Aug. 9, and the company said it was making progress on its accounting issues but would need more time to file. It was that request that the Nasdaq rebuffed Thursday.

Sonus was a tech favorite when it came public in mid-2000, at one point reaching $100 a share amid a wild rush to buy Internet gear stocks. The stock plunged into the pennies in late 2002 amid the tech bust before staging a 2003 resurgence on hopes that new technologies such as voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, would reinvigorate telecom network spending.

But Sonus tumbled into an accounting scandal in February when it found revenue-recognition problems in its internal audit and fired some managers for unethical behavior. Its shares, after briefly touching $10 on the market's early-year Internet boom, plunged.

The company says most of its accounting problem was related to one customer and the timing of when sales and shipments were booked as revenue. The biggest adjustment over the three-year restatement was an increase in deferred revenue to about $90 million from the $34 million that had previously been reported.

Downer
Sonus sags

Last month, Sonus

indicated that its bookkeeping blunder was nearly behind when it filed restated financial reports for 2001, 2002 and the first three quarters of 2003. For the first quarter ended in March, Sonus swung to a profit. That news sent the stock up 19% on July 29.

But Sonus has since given up its gains and more, as investors worry about tech valuations. Sonus shares slid 57 cents to $3.51 early Thursday.