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Greenberg: Does Green Mountain News Pass Sniff Test?

Tuesday, 7 Dec 2010 | 1:32 PM ET
AP

With Green Mountain Coffee, there’s something in the aroma that is a little off.

After the market closed Monday, Green Mountain , reeling from an internal and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accounting investigation, issued a press release saying it would announce long-awaited and delayed fourth quarter financial results after the market’s close on December 9.

But there were some curious aspects to the release, which take on special meaning given the accounting controversy.

Most notably, there is a material change in the company’s wording about how it would handle the release and conference call. Historically, Green Mountain has simply said that “management will review” results “and discuss future prospects” during a call that will last “about an hour.”

Now it says that it will “publish management’s prepared remarks on its quarterly and annual results. These prepared remarks will be provided via a Current Report on Form 8-K. As a result of publishing prepared remarks in advance of the live call, the conference call will include only brief remarks by management followed by a question and answer session.”

Did I mention they said “prepared remarks?” The significance is this: the wording sounds very legal. Conference call comments are always “prepared,” but for some reason (perhaps because the SEC is still investigating?) the company is making it clear that you know and that they’ll now be relegated to an SEC filing—not the call itself.

More significant, perhaps: Whither the 10-K? While the company mentions an 8-K, which is used to disseminate important information, there is no mention of the release of an annual 10-K.

Yet, in a November 19 press release announcing that it was restating several year’s worth of financial results, Green Mountain said it would file its delayed 10-K by December 9, the expiration date of an extended filing date.

So will the 10-K be out Thursday, as well? In response to my question, a Green Mountain spokesperson referred my producer, Karina Frayter, to what the company said on November 19—that the 10-K should be released on by December 9. The spokesperson added, “We are not providing an update to that information.”

It may all be merely a game of words, a game of chicken or maybe, just maybe, the company doesn’t yet know if it’s10-K will be filed on time.

If it is, great. If not, watch out.

Questions? Comments? Write to HerbOnTheStreet@cnbc.com

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