SEC Is Reportedly Investigating American Apparel
According to published reports, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is probing a series of internal American Apparel (asi/35297) e-mails that imply the company nearly went bankrupt before Christmas. Citing unnamed sources, the New York Post claims the SEC is focusing on an e-mail written by CFO Adrian Kowalewski and later leaked to the press.
Reached by Counselor, SEC spokesman John Heine declined to comment on whether an investigation is underway. Repeated calls to American Apparel were not returned, although the company's general counsel, Joyce Crucillo, recently told Reuters she is not aware of any investigation initiated by the SEC.
Early this month, American Apparel announced a 3% increase in sales for the month of December. In addition, the company reported a 10% sales gain for the complete fourth quarter of 2008. However, with little cash and substantial liabilities, American Apparel has struggled to pay creditors and recently obtained a three-month extension to make debt payments. Although the exact reason for the apparent probe is unknown, the SEC is likely interested in determining if that extension was reported in a timely manner. Additionally, the SEC may be investigating why a company reporting sharp increases in sales was on the verge of bankruptcy, as Kowalewski's e-mail implied.
Providing more evidence of the company's money problems, the New York Post also reports American Apparel CEO Dov Charney recently asked a billionaire investor for financial help. The company's stock has plummeted since early 2008, now trading at just over $2.00 per share, which is down from a 52-week high of $13.20.