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Yahoo.com Fixes Cash-Balance Errors

NEW YORK, May 31 - Erroneous financial data about Lion Bioscience and Genomic Solutions posted on Yahoo.com recently has been corrected yesterday, according to the data-tracking firm used by the giant search engine.

 

Now, according to Yahoo.com, Lion Bioscience had $9.2 million in cash through Dec. 31, 2001, and Genomic Solutions had $7.2 million through March 31, 2002. (A Lion spokeswoman, however, confirmed yesterday that the company had $112 million in cash and marketable securities as of March 31.)

 

The root of the errors, uncovered by GenomeWeb on Wednesday, had two parts: When analysts from Yahoo!'s data vendor MarketGuide.com "updated the preliminary numbers from the company's [quarterly earnings] press releases, they didn't pick up the cash number," said John Schirripa, a product manager for MarketGuide. "So it came up as zero."

 

"In the second part of the problem, the data file we supply to Yahoo! for the Profile had the preliminary number from the earnings announcement [as well as] the number from the most recent quarter," he said. "So what I asked Yahoo! to do is if the latest number from the preliminary is zero to just stick with the most recent quarter number."

 

Schirripa told GenomeWeb that the errors have been up since the companies issued press releases reporting their latest quartery earnings. He added their "were a few" other firms whose cash balances came up as zero but these, too, were "quickly resolved."

 

"We do work very quickly to resolve any errors," Schirripa said. "We take it very seriously."

 

A spokeswoman for Genomic Solutions confirmed on Wednesday the original figure was inaccurate and said she has taken steps to alert Yahoo! and MarketGuide.com. Lion, reached yesterday, learned of the error from the GenomeWeb article and said it too would call to have the figure corrected.

 

Officials at Yahoo! have not responded to repeated telephone calls seeking comment.

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