Earnings

Equifax Silent On Earnings Date

After a massive security breach that leaked the personal information of 145.5 million consumers, it’s no surprise that Equifax isn’t rushing to report its earnings.

According to a Reuters news report, the company has until Nov. 9 to release its results or request an extension from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, when it will then have 40 days after the close of a quarter to report its financials to investors.

Company representatives declined to say when the results will be issued. Since the breach, Equifax shares are down about 24 percent.

“A significant amount of uncertainty remains regarding the financial and operational impacts from Equifax’s breach,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Gary Bisbee said in a note on Monday, as he cut his recommendation on the stock to “hold” from “buy.”

Investors are wondering about how the incident might harm the company’s earnings, the impact on its market share and if the U.S. government will tighten regulation of the credit reporting industry. Earlier this month, following another security issue with Equifax’s website, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service temporarily suspended a contract worth more than $7 million that it had recently awarded to the credit monitoring service.

Equifax is expected to report earnings of $1.49 per share, not including one-time items, for the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters’ I/B/E/S estimates. While the average analyst price target on the stock is now $124.62, down from $153.25 before the breach, 11 of the 15 analysts who cover the company have a “buy” or “strong buy” recommendation on the stock. Four others have “hold” ratings.

Morningstar analyst Brett Horn said Equifax may not be ready to give investors financial details about how much the incident will cost to clean up and how it will affect future earnings. Some factors include how much of the post-breach expenses will be paid by insurers, and how much free credit monitoring and identity theft services the company will offer to consumers.

Investors are also eager for an update on the company’s search for a new chief executive, new chief security officer and new chief information officer to replace the executives who left after the hack.

“Too much is unknown,” said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at The Philadelphia Trust Company. “I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to get in.”

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