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Quindell PLC Slumps 50% Ahead Of Auditor Report

The collapse in the Quindell (LSE: QPP) share price from a peak of 682.5p in April last year to a low of just 24.1p on 10 December is already writ in the annals of investing folklore.

But what many of us didn’t expect was the subsequent recovery, with the shares reaching a recent top of 133.5p on 23 January. If that was just a dead-cat bounce, it was a pretty springy Tigger.

So should we see it as an indication that my fellow bears were wrong? No!

Speculation

The price respite was surely the result of a number of things. Firstly there was the “Ooh, the P/E is less than one, I need to fill my boots” thinking that you can find wherever bulletin board regulars congregate. That’s a high-risk approach, but to be fair, it can sometimes work.

Then there was renewed institutional investment, but it was on a scale that wouldn’t hurt if it went bad and was probably worth a small punt.

The third factor was the inevitable short squeeze. When a heavily shorted company gets close to what looks like a bottom, shorters trying to get out have to buy shares to settle their previous loans, and that pushes the price back up again.

So who’s right?

Since that high a couple of weeks ago, the share price has steadily lost its way, shedding 48% to 70p as I write. And that’s as we get closer to the auditor’s report due some time this month — Quindell’s managers have still not given us a date, but those familiar with the company’s idea of what constitutes openness will hardly be surprised at that.

PwC it is who are charged, at the behest of Quindell’s bankers, with examining the company’s accounting policies and its cash flow claims. The accounts are tainted with disbelief surrounding the massive accruals that have been claimed for the profit line, but hey, Quindell might actually be capable of returns from personal health claims that are way ahead of the industry average!

Buy? No!

We’re getting closer to the PwC report, and people will be watching for share price movements that are possibly driven by early leaks — but if those leaks are happening, they’re clearly not good news judging by the way the share price is going.

If you like a pure gamble, well, I’d urge you to go red or black at the roulette tables. At least then you’d almost have a 50% chance of winning, and I think those are much better odds than Quindell can offer — but we’ll see when we eventually get the PwC report.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.