Lumber Liquidators Ditches Conference, Plans Update

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Lumber Liquidators has canceled its previously scheduled appearance at the Raymond James Annual Institutional Investors Conference today. The flooring retail chain did schedule a business update for March 12, however, reports Myles Udland of Business Insider.

That conference call is scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern next week Thursday, and management will address the allegations raised by short-sellers and a news report from earlier this week.

Where Lumber Liquidators’ problems started

Lumber Liquidators was dragged into the spotlight over the weekend when 60 Minutes did a special report on the company. The TV program spoke with short-seller Whitney Tilson, who raised allegations that most of the flooring the company sells is not compliant with safety rules in California regarding formaldehyde content. Tilson is out with another piece on the company today.

Shares of the retail chain plunged after that report, but apparently Tilson wasn’t the first to discover the alleged problems with its floors. Matt Townsend of Bloomberg reports that the original investor to raise those allegations was 25-year-old Xuhua Zhou, who is also reportedly selling shares of Lumber Liquidators short.

Suspicious margin increase at Lumber Liquidators

Zhou became concerned about the company’s products two years ago. He noticed that the flooring company suddenly saw a dramatic increase its margins, and as a result, he concluded that something serious could be wrong.

He had previously researched suppliers in his home country of China, so he knew how to go about looking into Lumber Liquidators’ Chinese suppliers. He believed the company may have cut quality in order to boost its margins and began to dig.

Whitney Tilson tips his hat to Zhou

Tilson praised Zhou, saying, “It’s pretty amazing what he did on his own,” according to Bloomberg. He also called the investor “the pioneer” of the short thesis on the flooring retailer. Zhou first posted his short thesis on Seeking Alpha in June 2013 after uncovering online complaints about the China-sourced flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators.

After reading those complaints, he purchased some of the company’s products and paid for them to be analyzed. It wasn’t until September that Tilson began seeing Lumber Liquidators as a potential short opportunity, and then he announced his short position in November at an investment conference.

Geoinvesting goes short on Lumber Liquidators

In a post on Seeking Alpha today, Geoinvesting said it has gone short on Lumber Liquidators. Thus far short-sellers like Tilson, Zhou and now Geoinvesting have raked in some tidy profits on their short positions. The stock plummeted 41% in the wake of the 60 Minutes report.

According to their post on Seeking Alpha, the folks at Geoinvesting sided with Tilson and Zhou after going over California’s rules regarding formaldehyde testing. Unlike some analysts, they believe the results of the tests were accurate, which means Lumber Liquidators could indeed be in big trouble.

The flooring company’s 2014 10-K reveals that it has only $20.3 million in cash and $47.3 million available on a revolving credit facility. As a result, Geoinvesting believes it needs some cash fast. The firm said it initiated its short position after the 60 Minutes report on Sunday.

As of this writing, shares of Lumber Liquidators were up by 0.29% to $40.90 per share.

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