Electronic Data Systems Corp. postponed release of its third-quarter earnings for the second time in two weeks yesterday, as the computer services giant attempted to address questions raised by its auditors about a Navy contract.
The company said its audit committee also was addressing new questions from the auditors, KPMG LLP, about the company's quarterly bonus plan. It did not elaborate.
The findings could result in a restatement of quarterly earnings for 2003, EDS said, but should not affect its financial results.
EDS is based in Plano, Tex. Its Government Solutions business is in Herndon, and the company has about 5,500 employees in the Washington area.
The Navy contract, to create a worldwide intranet for the Navy and Marine Corps, has been extremely costly for the company.
Under the deal, worth up to $8.8 billion and signed in 2000, EDS is to connect disparate communication networks and manage computer systems across the two branches. But the work required EDS to make huge investments in technology that continue to bog down the firm and diminish the value of the contract.
The contract has weighed heavily on the company's performance, as has weak corporate spending on information technology. In March 2003, the company fired its chairman and chief executive, Richard H. Brown, and replaced him with former CBS executive Michael H. Jordan, who pledged to put EDS's house in order.
The company announced 5,200 layoffs in 2003. A company spokesman yesterday said there could be as many as 20,000 more jobs cut over the next 21/2 years. EDS has about 120,000 employees.
In the fourth quarter of its last fiscal year, the company recorded a $559 million charge related to the Navy contract, and in March it disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission had asked for documents pertaining to the deal.
In early October, EDS said it agreed with the Navy to modify the extensive mandates in the contract that measure the company's performance. The company said it would provide an update on the contract with its third-quarter earnings.
Last week, a day after telling investors it would have to delay reporting earnings because of questions about the Navy contract, the company said it would offer early retirement packages to 9,200 of its employees. That will result in a $150 million pretax charge in the current quarter, EDS said, but is expected to save about $150 million in 2005. EDS predicted that about 4,600 of eligible workers would take the buyout.
The company also said last week that it expects revenue for 2004 of $20 billion to $21 billion, compared with $21.5 billion in 2003.
The company lost $12 million (2 cents a share) in the first quarter of this year, but posted a $270 million (54 cents) profit in the second quarter of the year.
Shares of EDS, which announced the delay in reporting earnings after the markets closed, fell 51 cents yesterday to close at $20.65.