DETROIT -- Jeffrey Schwartz has lost his day-to-day responsibilities for running Autobytel Inc., and board member Richard Post has been named CEO in a management shakeup at the online automotive marketing company.
Autobytel, which has been mired in an accounting scandal, also promoted Richard Walker to chief operating officer late Wednesday. Walker has been in charge of corporate development and strategy.
Schwartz, who was CEO and president, is now Autobytel's vice chairman and remains on the board of directors.
Autobytel sells sales leads to dealerships and advertising to automakers on its Web sites. The company also sells software. "The board believes that the company has made significant progress in identifying the processes necessary to remedy issues relating to its financial restatements," Chairman Michael Fuchs said in a statement. "In order to complete this, Rick Post ... will personally supervise the process, in addition to his day-to-day CEO responsibilities."
Post has been a member of Autobytel's board since the Irvine, Calif., company became publicly owned in 1999.
The company has been threatened with delisting from Nasdaq for failing to file restated earnings and its 2004 annual report on time. Autobytel said Nasdaq has given the company until May 15, but Autobytel warned that it may not be able to meet that deadline.
The filing delays were triggered by an internal audit last October. At issue is how Autobytel accounted for $600,000 between April 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004. The audit found that Autobytel wrongly recognized $450,000 in “unapplied credits.” The audit also found that $150,000 in uncashed checks issued by the company were incorrectly recorded as a reduction of expenses. The audit also found that the company wrongly accounted for advertising revenue and failed to record state tax expenses.
In March, Autobytel said it would have to restate its quarterly financial statements for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2003; all of 2003; and the first and second quarters of 2004.
At that time, it did release preliminary, partial, unaudited financial results for 2004. The company said that it expects 2004 revenues to be between $121.5 million and $123.0 million. Net income for 2004 is expected to be between $6.9 million and $7.7 million, compared with net income of $7.4 million on sales of $88.9 million in 2003.