Hain Tumbles After Delaying Results Over Accounting Concerns

  • Company also says it won’t achieve its guidance for 2016
  • Organic-food supplier has been cited as takeover target

Hain Celestial Group Inc., a supplier of organic and natural products to Whole Foods Market Inc. and other grocers, plunged the most in more than 15 years after delaying financial results on accounting concerns and abandoning its full-year targets.

The company is looking at concessions that it granted to certain U.S. distributors and whether revenue from those agreements was recorded in the correct period, according to a statement on Monday. It’s also evaluating its internal control over financial reporting, and the board’s audit committee is conducting an independent review of the situation.

In addition to delaying results for the fourth quarter, Hain warned that it doesn’t expect to meet its guidance for fiscal 2016, which ended June 30. The remarks jarred investors, sending the shares down as much as 30 percent to $37.25, the biggest intraday drop since November 2000. Before the plunge, Hain shares had been up 32 percent this year.

The company announced plans in May to reorganize its operations as it pursues $100 million in cost cuts. It also has been cited as a potential takeover target because large packaged-food companies are looking to add products that can meet changing consumer tastes. Danone agreed to buy WhiteWave Foods Co. last month for $10 billion, bolstering its organic-food lineup.

Ratings Downgrade

The Hain news on Monday led SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Chappell to downgrade the stock to neutral. Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard, meanwhile, suspended coverage until the financial issues are resolved. Hain management had expected to boost margins in the current fiscal year, but “this begs the question of whether another rebasing of earnings will be required,” she said in a note.

The accounting issue centers on Hain’s transactions with distributors.

“Previously, the company has recognized revenue pertaining to the sale of its products to certain distributors at the time the products are shipped to such distributors,” Hain said in Monday’s statement. “The company is evaluating whether the revenue associated with the concessions granted to certain distributors should instead have been recognized at the time the products sell through its distributors to the end customers.”

The company doesn’t expect its total amount of revenue to change. But it won’t be able to release its 2016 results until the audit committee finishes its independent review.

“The company is working diligently on this matter and will, as soon as practicable, make a further announcement regarding the updated timing of the release of financial results,” Hain said.

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