Beazer Homes USA announced Wednesday Sept. 24 that it has settled an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of several investigations by government entities that have been hanging over the company's head for more than a year.
Beazer is not required to pay a monetary penalty and does not admit or deny any wrongdoing under the settlement. It did, however, agree to "a cease and desist order requiring future compliance with certain provisions of the federal securities laws and regulations," the company's announcement said. The SEC said it considered the company's recent remediation efforts in determining to accept the settlement and conclude its investigation.
The settlement shouldn't make much difference to Beazer's stock performance, UBS analyst David Goldberg wrote Thursday morning. "Although we view this positively, it was inline with our expectations that a resolution would be financially immaterial."
And, even though other investigations remain ongoing, Goldberg said he thinks that risk is already baked into the company's current stock value.
Beazer and its subsidiary, Beazer Mortgage Corp., continue to be under investigation by the United States Attorney's Office in the Western District of North Carolina and other state and federal agencies regarding allegations related to its mortgage lending operations. Beazer is working to settle those cases as well.
The Atlanta-based company's problems began in the spring of 2007 when the Charlotte Observer newspaper published a series about high rates of foreclosures in Charlotte-area subdivisions where Beazer had built and sold houses.
The company responded by cooperating with investigators and launching its own independent audit committee investigation into the charges. Last October, Beazer announced its investigation had found the company's subsidiary had violated U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations related to down payment assistance programs on loans dating back to 2000. It also found accounting problems that required forensic accountants to comb through years of the company's records and then restate its earnings.
It was the accounting irregularities that sparked the SEC investigations. Kit Addleman, regional director of the SEC's Atlanta office, said the company used accounting to "smooth" its earnings.