UPDATE: Conseco shares slip after report

Stock in Conseco Inc. sank 4 percent this morning after the Carmel insurer said it would restate earnings for nearly the past three years and alter other information as far back as 2003. The shares slumped to $11.62.

Conseco said the action will correct errors identified by the company’s process of improving its internal financial controls.

The errors led to an overstatement of Conseco shareholders’ equity of at least $15 million and as much as $35 million when the Carmel-based insurer last reported earnings in November, the company said this morning.

Conseco pegged shareholder equity at $4.3 billion in the third quarter.

In addition, net income could be adjusted higher or lower by as much as $15 million in each of the prior years. Conseco hasn’t reported 2007 profit, but it generated $96.5 million in 2006.

Conseco first reported material weaknesses in its internal control processes in its 2006 annual report.

The most significant errors relate to adjustments to insurance policy benefits and the liabilities for insurance products in the specified disease and life blocks of business in Conseco’s Carmel-based subsidiary, Conseco Insurance Group segment. It also has found errors in the long-term care policies that Conseco no longer sells.

Conseco stock traded near $25 a share in early 2006, but has largely trended down since then. After hitting a bottom of $9.88 on Jan. 18 this year, it had rebounded to about $12.

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