Why the Slater & Gordon Limited share price was slammed another 33% today

As if shareholders of Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH) hadn’t been punished enough already, shares of the legal firm have fallen another 33.6% today to just 38.7 cents.

Slater & Gordon’s share price was absolutely crushed on Monday, falling more than 30% after the shares reopened for normal trade following a brief voluntary suspension. The suspension had been requested by the business on Thursday last week to allow it to finalise “certain material items in the half year results”.

For the six-month period ended 31 December 2015, the company booked an $876.4 million impairment of goodwill – the majority of which related to the acquisition of Slater & Gordon Services (SGS) (previously Quindell’s Professional Services division). It also recorded a loss of $958 million, hurt by underperformance in the United Kingdom operations, and decided not to declare a dividend.

To make matters even worse, The Australian Financial Review reported that Slater & Gordon is now “almost certain” to face a class action, led by Maurice Blackburn, with serious doubts being cast regarding the adequacy of its bookkeeping and disclosures to the market.

Then, there’s also the matter of its ability to repay its lenders. As it stands, the company said it remains in compliance with all its undertakings under the Syndicated Facility Agreement (SFA), although it will meet with its lenders – being National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) – with amendments to the SFA possible.

If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the banks can demand the debt be repaid in full by 31 March, 2017 — just over 12 months away.

Down from a high of $8.07 in April 2015, shares of Slater & Gordon have collapsed more than 95%, giving the company a market value less than $160 million. Although some investors might find value in the shares today following their sharp decline, there is, of course, the risk that things could get even worse for the group, as highlighted above.

With the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) still hovering below 5000 points, near its lowest level since mid-2013, investors would be wise to focus their attention on other opportunities scattered around the market.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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