Shares of C3.ai Inc. (NYSE: AI) inches down in pre trading session on Thursday as Kerrisdale Capital, a short seller, claimed that the business software firm has “severe accounting and transparency concerns.”
In a letter to Deloitte & Touche LLP, C3.ai’s auditor, Sahm Adrangi stated that the company used “highly aggressive accounting to inflate its income statement metrics in order to meet sell-side analyst estimates for revenue and certain profit metrics, and to conceal significant deterioration in its underlying operations.”
After the conclusion of trading on Tuesday in New York, shares of C3.ai, located in Redwood City, California, dropped 26% to $24.95. The firm had benefitted from a surge in investor interest in artificial intelligence before the decline, and its stock had increased by more than double this year. According to Kerrisdale, it is short C3.ai shares.
In order to increase profits, the corporation records expenditures associated with the creation of customized software as research and development rather than cost of sales, according to Kerrisdale’s letter. According to the letter, this is one of the accounting techniques C3.ai use to portray itself as being in the high-margin software-as-a-service sector rather than one based on lower-margin consulting. Concerns about an increase in unbilled receivables from one client, Baker Hughes Co., were also raised by Kerrisdale.
C3.ai described the letter as a “very inventive and blatant attempt” to lower the stock price in a statement. According to a representative, the claim that C3.ai’s financial statements regarding Baker Hughes are in any way wrong “manifests a fundamental ignorance of US GAAP accounting methods and concepts.” The representative stated that C3.ai’s independent audit firm has evaluated the accounting disclosures and financial statements mentioned in the letter. A request for comment was not answered by Baker Hughes or Deloitte.
One of the almost 30 short-selling companies under investigation by the US Justice Department for possible trading irregularities is Kerrisdale Capital. Adrangi stated earlier this year that no government agency had approached the business regarding investigations.
Industry veteran Tom Siebel, whose namesake customer relations management business was purchased by Oracle Corp. in 2006, created and serves as the company’s CEO. Four persons have served as chief financial officers since 2019, according to the letter, which notes the position’s “high turnover.”