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Huntersville energy firm misstated $31 million in revenue

A Huntersville energy-efficiency firm says it misstated $31 million in revenue between 2008 and early 2012, and that continued losses raise “substantial doubt” whether it can survive.

Lime Energy restated its results for 2008-2011 in filing its 2012 financial statement last week.

The company said it discovered in mid-2012 that employees, since fired, misreported $17.4 million in revenue between 2008 and the first quarter of 2012. An additional $14.2 million, Lime said, was reported for which no contracts existed or reported revenue exceeded contract terms.

All but $500,000 had been properly adjusted by year-end 2012, it said.

The company says it has fixed its internal controls over financial reporting, trimmed some businesses and reduced staffing. John O’Rourke, president and chief executive, expressed optimism about the future.

“Our employees are still with us and striving collectively to push the company forward, our major suppliers have stuck with us … and our clients continue to work with us and in some cases expand their existing engagements,” he said in a statement.

Launched in 1997, Lime has 160 employees in eight states. It develops energy-efficiency programs aimed at small and midsize business customers through contracts with utilities, including Duke Energy Progress.

Securities filings show Lime had a net loss of $31.8 million for 2012 and $18.9 million for 2011.

Annual losses and negative cash flows mean the company may have trouble raising capital, the filings say.

Lime sold its public-sector businesses in February and shut down a unit that was intended to develop renewable-energy projects. Ninety percent of its revenue now comes from nine utility contracts.

NASDAQ has warned that it may delist Lime for filing its 2012 financial statement late and for failing to maintain a minimum $1 per share price. Shares in the company closed at 67 cents Monday, down 2 cents.

The company also faces two shareholder lawsuits over the misstated revenue and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Henderson: 704-358-5051 Twitter: @bhender
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