In a move possibly calculated to reap minimal exposure, troubled
Homestore.com Inc. put out a release well after business hours last night,
announcing “additional disciplinary actions related to the previously
announced internal accounting inquiry.”
In a terse release, issued at 9:46 p.m., Homestore
it has terminated, or accepted resignations from seven employees, including
three who had previously been placed on administrative leave.
And the company said it may take additional disciplinary measures before the
inquiry into financial irregularities is complete. No further explanation was
The inquiry is a probe of accounting practices at the Westlake Village,
Calif.-based real estate play, which has said it may have overstated its earnings for the first three quarters of 2001 by as much
as $95 million.
The employees placed on leave earlier were members of the finance department
and business development department, Homestore said.
Trading in Homestore stock was halted in late December, and resumed Jan. 7
when the company named
a new management team and saw its CEO depart. The stock this morning was
down 18 cents a share to $2.28. At one time it traded for more than $100 a
share and was a Wall Street favorite.
The company said earlier that an audit committee investigation of its
finances showed that it had accounted for barter advertising deals as regular
ad sales transactions. A number of shareholder lawsuits have been filed.
Homestore’s network of Web sites includes the flagship Realtor.com;
HomeBuilder.com; Homestore Apartments & Rentals; and Homestore.com, a home