TSYS moves earnings release up amid wild stock market swings

One need look no further Monday than the manic New York Stock Exchange to see why TSYS decided to move its third-quarter earnings release up nearly three weeks.

It was a tumultuous trading day, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeting 800 points early on, then seesawing back and forth before recovering to 370-point loss. It was the first time in four years the Dow took a dive under 10,000.

Around midday, in the heat of the wild swings, TSYS went public that its financial report for the July-September period will be issued after the market's 4 p.m. close on Thursday.

The Columbus-based credit-card processor had internally been scheduling the release for Oct. 29, two days before Halloween. That was before the frightening turn of events on Wall Street over the last two weeks.

"You're just seeing so much turbulence in the market and there's so much uncertainty," said TSYS spokesman Cyle Mims. "We just felt that getting our numbers out to the Street sooner rather than later was the best approach, so everybody can see how we're doing."

Recent developments in the financial sector will likely be discussed during Friday's conference call with stock market analysts, Mims said.

Three of the processor's customers are involved in an acquisition dispute. Citigroup says its initial buyout offer for Wachovia Corp.'s banking assets should trump a second bid by Wells Fargo to buy the entire company. How the matter shakes out could impact TSYS revenue long term.

"We're going to remain optimistic until somebody says that they want to do something different," Phil Tomlinson, TSYS chairman and chief executive officer, said in a recent interview.

On Monday, the company was simply controlling what it can. In past quarters, particularly when it was a subsidiary of Columbus bankholding firm Synovus Financial Corp., TSYS would typically issue its quarterly report around mid-month, followed by Synovus. The two firms split at the end of 2007.

Synovus spokesman Greg Hudgison confirmed there has been no change in the date his company will release earnings figures — Oct. 23.

That's the same day another major company headquartered in Columbus, supplemental insurer Aflac Inc., is scheduled to issue its quarterly report.

All three of the locally based firms took their lumps Monday, with their shares dropping. TSYS fell 75 cents, or 4.85 percent, to $14.71 per share, while Synovus was down 30 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $10.27.

Aflac's slide was the most precipitous, with its shares plunging more than $6, or nearly 12 percent, by mid-morning. The loss was cut in half by the closing bell, however, with the firm's stock off $2.97, or 5.7 percent, at $49.15.