NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A class action suit has been filed on behalf of an institutional investor against Waters alleging that the firm provided false and misleading information in certain press materials, SEC filings, and a conference call in January 2008.
The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of purchasers of Waters’ common stock between Jan. 24, 2007, and Jan. 22, 2008. The plaintiff is the City of Dearborn Heights Act 345 Police & Fire Retirement System and the defendants are Waters, its Chairman, CEO, and President Doug Berthiaume, and CFO John Ornell.
The complaint alleges that Waters’ respresentations of its business during the class period were “materially false and misleading” because the firm did not disclose that it was experiencing a slowdown in sales in Japan due to decreased government regulation, that its earnings were being materially impacted by an increased tax rate, and that because of these factors it had “no reasonable basis for its 2007 earnings guidance.”
Waters held its fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2007 conference call on Jan. 22, 2008, following the release of its financial results. Its shares declined around 20 percent to close at $58.58 that day.
"As a result of these materially false and misleading statements and failures to disclose, Waters Corp. common stock traded at artifically inflated prices during the class period," the complaint alleges.
The plaintiff also alleges that Berthiaume and Ornell were "further motivated to engage in ths course of conduct" so that they and other company insiders could "collectively sell 702,600 shares of their personally-held Waters Corp. common stock for gross proceeds in excess of $46.1 million."
The plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages, as well as the award of reasonable costs and expenses associated with its suit against Waters. Though it didn't specify how much money it was seeking in damages, the plaintiff purchased Waters' shares in three blocks: 2,220 shares at $68.01 per share on Oct. 17, 2007; 1,470 shares at $75.83 on Oct. 31, 2007; and 140 shares at $73.64 per share on Nov. 13, 2007.
A Waters spokesman said the company has "no comment at this time."