China’s Focus Media overstated the number of displays in its networks by just 80, an independent audit has found, apparently demolishing November allegations by short-seller Muddy Waters Research that the company was exaggerating figures by as much as 50 percent.
With a total of around 185,000 displays, the real scale of the error is only about 0.04 percent, easily attributable to simple record-keeping or counting mistakes.
Muddy Waters alleged last year that Focus was misleading advertisers and investors by claiming tens of thousands of displays that did not exist, although Focus at the time countered that the investment research firm had misunderstood published figures.
The census, carried out by Ipsos Marketing Consulting Company in November and December, found that Focus had 121,320 fully-fledged screens in its LCD network, 33,312 digital picture screens, and 30,542 picture frame devices. The media owner terms the latter two networks “LCD 2.0” and “LCD 1.0” respectively.
Ipsos examined Focus’s entire network except for its small presence of around 100 screens in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, which was excluded for logistical reasons.
Focus stock is traded on the U.S. NASDAQ market as FMCN.