COMMENTARY -- Judging by the schizophrenic voting results, I'm not the only one having trouble focusing my opinions this week. Wednesday ramblings:
Makes sense. Republicans have the rich stereotype, but many of Silicon Valley's residents are newer, younger rich types. And let's be honest: despite all the sound and fury, there's little difference between these guys from a business point of view.
Microsoft investors apparently aren't worried, no matter how those Florida absentee ballots turn out. Shares of MSFT rose initially today, despite the overall Nasdaq downdraft. MSFT fell in the afternoon, but it's still ahead of the rest of the Nasdaq.
Art Technology sold $10 million of receivables to the bank last quarter. The vendor of CRM software didn't bother telling anyone about it during last week's quarterly conference call; instead, it ended up as a line in Art Technology's 10Q report, filed this week.
Why are investors worried? Because if you subtract that sale, Art Technology's cash plunges to $5 million and its days sales outstanding rises to 84 from 64. The quarter suddenly doesn't look so great.
Maybe there's a good explanation for factoring receivables. Maybe Art Technology just needed to raise money, though that doesn't sound likely, given that the company reported a profit and is already going into a secondary offering. Who knows?
But investors should never, ever have to ask that question about the numbers. Just disclose them. Tell people about them, because they're going to find one way or another. At least if executives talk about accounting actions during the conference call, there's a chance to spin it.
Otherwise, people will just read it in the 10Q and take wild guesses as to what is going on. Believe it or not, shareholders read those things, as do analysts and reporters. In these days of Edgar Online and Freeedgar and SEC.gov and other data sources online, you can't hide anything.
ARTG shares were down 9 pecent even before TheStreet.com's Herb Greenberg mentioned the receivables, and the decline only accelerated after that. They've lost another 19 percent today, and the worst part is, the company can't say much now because of the secondary offering.
The conference call was Art Technology's only chance to explain things. Now they're suffering the consequences of silence.