Discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores said Tuesday that its external auditor, Deloitte & Touche LLP, had resigned and the company will further delay the filing of its earnings statements for the first two quarters of 2005.

The resignation of its auditor was not the result of any disagreement about accounting practices, 99 Cents Only Stores said in a press release. Some accounting firms have been forced to drop smaller clients because they are too busy completing work on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance requirements for their largest corporate customers.

Shares of 99 Cents Only fell 31 cents, or 3 percent, to $10.11 a share, near a 52-week low of $9.93 a share.

The Commerce, Calif.-based has been unable to stage a turnaround in the past year. The company's problems were compounded by the resignation in March of its former chief financial officer, inventory miscues, an overzealous expansion in Texas and a potential earnings restatement due to lease accounting issues.

A call to the company was not returned.

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