NEW YORK, May 29 - Some readers of Yahoo.com's financial pages may have left the site scratching their heads recently.
The corporate "Profile" portion of the widely used search engine posted extravagantly incorrect cash balances for at least two publicly traded genomics companies. According to Yahoo.com, Lion Bioscience and Genomic Solutions have total-cash balances of $0. In other words, they're broke.
While both companies have seen better financial days, rumors of the death of their cash balances have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, Genomic Solutions had $7.2 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31 and Lion managed to hold on to $112 million in cash and marketable securities.
A spokeswoman for Genomic Solutions learned of the gaffe from a reporter this afternoon. It was too late to contact Lion's headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. Officials from Yahoo! or MarketGuide.com, whose data Yahoo.com uses in some of its spreadsheets, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
To be fair, a different part of Yahoo.com--the "Financials" link rather than "Profile"--links to a page called "Balance Sheet," which lists correct asset valuations.
It was not immediately known how long the erroneous data have been posted. And it will be difficult at best to determine whether the information had an effect on either company's stock performance.
Rubberneckers can go to www.yahoo.com, find "Media," link to "Finance" beside it, and enter a company's ticker symbol--Genomics Solutions' is GNSL and Lion's is LEON.
The word "Profile" will be seen in a small text box in the center of the screen. Clicking it will bring readers to the full company profile page, which includes recent events, ownership details, a financial summary, executive compensation, and, at the very end, a section called "Statistics at a Glance." In the third column is the category "Financial Strength," which lists the firm's debt-to-equity ratio and total cash.