Olympus Corp. (TYO:7733) fired its president last week and promptly watched its share price plunge as Wall Street analysts expressed their displeasure by downgrading the Japanese medical equipment and camera maker.
Olympus shares closed down nearly 24 percent today on the Tokyo stock exchange following downgrades from at least six analysts on The Street – the stock’s worst showing since 1974, according to Bloomberg.
That plunge followed an 18 percent slide Oct. 14, the day Olympus announced Woodford’s ouster.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nomura Holdings Inc. and at least four other brokerages slashed their ratings on Olympus stock, according to the news service. Woodford was sacked after ignoring warnings from Olympus chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, according to the company, but the 30-year veteran claimed his firing was due to questions he raised about possibly illegal payments to acquisition advisors in 2008.
"The board’s explained rationale completely contradicts its praise for Woodford less than two weeks ago," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts Toshiya Hari and Kenya Moriuchi wrote, downgrading the stock to "neutral" from "buy."
Woodford, who had commissioned a report on the payments before he was sacked, alerted British fraud investigators after his firing, he told Bloomberg.
"I met with the serious fraud squad to pass on the core documents," Woodford said. "I’m not saying fraud has taken place, I’m just making sure the authorities have all the documents because the payments were made from the U.K."
Olympus paid $687 million to two advisory companies related to its purchase of Gyrus Group Plc in 2008, according to the website – more than one-third of the $2 billion purchase price.