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Dell Delays Q3 Report as SEC Probe Turns Serious

It's official.

Dell  said it is now formally the subject of an Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe into its accounting practices.

The Round Rock, Texas company also said in a statement its third-quarter financial results will be delayed until the end of the month, thanks to the ongoing probes by the SEC and Dell's internal audit committee into accounting and financial reporting matters.

Dell attributed the move from the originally scheduled Q3 announcement Wednesday to "the level of complexity the company is facing in the preparation of its preliminary results," which stems from the ongoing investigations.

The fact that the company has not filed its Form 10-Q for the second fiscal quarter complicates the matter further, Dell said.

When the company does announce earnings it will be in the form of a press release only.

"Dell continues to cooperate with the SEC, and is committed to resolving all issues in connection with the investigation and regaining compliance with all SEC filing requirements as soon as possible," Dell said in the statement.

News that Dell will delay its third-quarter numbers due to the SEC probe comes after a similar decision in September to delay the company's second-quarter financial statement.

That delay prompted a warning from the Nasdaq stock market of possible delisting for Dell.

The latest earnings put-off had one financial services firm anticipating that heads could roll at Dell, which analysts say has been knocked out of the No. 1 computer maker spot by surging rival HP , which reports Q3 earnings tonight.

According to a Goldman Sachs brief published Thursday, the news of greater scrutiny by the SEC along with yet another financial reporting delay "will probably represent enough of a 'last straw' to override any but the most extreme improvements in Dell's fundamental business for the near-term."

The series of miscues by Dell makes management changes "a very real possibility," according to the brief.