• United States
Managing Editor

Nortel to restate earnings yet again

Mar 10, 20063 mins
Financial Services IndustryNetworking

Nortel goes through another round of restatements of earnings and revenue.

Just when you thought Nortel had straightened out its financial entanglements, the company has once again been forced to restate revenue and earnings for the past 33 months.

The restatements are due to revenue incorrectly recognized in prior periods that should have been deferred, the company said. Nortel was thought to have completed a wrenching restatement for 2001 through 2003 early last year but company executives had apparently spoken too soon.

The restatements of years 2003, 2004 and nine months of 2005 – plus adjustments to periods prior to 2003 – have forced Nortel to delay filing its annual report for 2005 and results for the fourth quarter of that year until April 30. Required amendments to previous periods will be released thereafter, the company says.

Nonetheless, Nortel did release preliminary, unaudited results for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2005. The company lost $2.2 billion on revenue of $2.9 billion. The loss includes a $2.5 billion litigation expense.

Preliminary unaudited 2005 results include revenues of $10.8 billion and a net loss of $2.4 billion.

Nortel expects revisions to its previously reported 2003 and 2004 financial results to lower revenue by $157 million and $77 million, and net earnings by $91 million and $93 million, respectively. The company also expects revisions to its previously reported 2005 nine-month results to lower revenue by $162 million and net earnings by $95 million.

For results prior to 2003, Nortel expects revisions to cut revenue by $470 million and net earnings by $99 million.

The restatement adjustments were identified through an “extensive” contract review and discussions with independent auditors.

“I’ve never seen more thorough (contract) review in my life,” Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski told reporters during a conference call to discuss the company’s restatements.

He added, however, that he cannot give assurances that a restatement will not happen again, but that Nortel is minimizing that chance by having the “people…(and) systems in place.

“It’s going to take three to five years to recreate a great company,” Zafirovski said.

Part of that recreation includes an operating margin expansion in excess of $1.5 billion in 2008, a goal disclosed this week as part of the company’s short-term priorities. Meeting those priorities involves executing on three plans: business transformation, integrity renewal and growth initiatives.

The business transformation plan is focused on simplifying Nortel’s business, improving quality, reducing direct and indirect costs, and generating new revenues. Integrity renewal is focused on effective governance, improving internal controls and ensuring the integrity of financial information.

As part of Nortel’s growth imperatives, Zafirovski reiterated a goal to pursue market opportunities where the company can achieve a leadership position and at least 20% market share. Nortel has pledged to significantly increase investment in the areas of IMS, WiMAX, and IPTV, and has redirected funding from its services edge router and sold certain assets of its blade server switch business unit.

Nortel last week was expected to disclose specifics of plans to earmark $1.9 billion in R&D spending this year but Zafirovski said those details will instead be shared over the next 12 months.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

More from this author