Equifax to report post-hack financial results after market close

FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta
FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

November 9, 2017

By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Equifax Inc <EFX.N> reports quarterly financial results on Thursday, after the market close, for the first time since disclosing it was the target of a massive data breach that exposed deeply sensitive information on 145.5 million people.

While analysts say the long-term financial impact of the breach on the company, or on consumers, will not be known for several quarters, the credit reporting firm may give an estimate on expected costs.

The Atlanta-based company is expected to report a third-quarter profit, not including one-time costs such as those associated with the breach, of $1.49 per share, versus $1.42 a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Equifax said it would hold a conference call to discuss the results on Friday morning, giving Wall Street a chance to publicly grill the company for the first time since the breach was disclosed on Sept. 7.

Equifax shares are still down about 24 percent since then, at $107.92 around midday on Thursday, but have rebounded from a more than 2-1/2-year low of $89.59 on Sept. 14.

The hack, which occurred between mid-May and late July and involved the theft of data such as birth dates, Social Security and credit card numbers, has led to multiple state and federal investigations, a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department and scores of class action law suits. Equifax has not said how much cash it intends to set aside to cover legal costs.

The company said it has insurance coverage for cybersecurity, crime, general liability and other areas, but it is unclear how much of the hack-related costs will be covered.

One of the most significant expenses Equifax said it expects relates to the credit monitoring and identity theft protection products it has offered to all consumers that sign up, for free, for a year.

The company may also give an update on its efforts to find a new chief executive officer, as well as new chief security and chief information officers, to replace executives that left after the breach was made public.

Interim CEO Paulino do Rego Barros said during a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday the company is now spending four times more on cyber security than before the breach, but did not put a number on the rising expenses.

(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by James Dalgleish)