In a regulatory filing late Friday, Hain Celestial Group(HAIN) - Get Report disclosed that it's being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its accounting practices, sending shares down 3.5%, to $38.53, in after-hours trading.
The filing stated that the SEC has "issued a formal order of investigation" and subpoenaed Hain for "relevant documents" after being informed in August of the delay of its fourth quarter earnings release. The company said it intends to cooperate with the SEC investigation and is in the process of complying with the agency's request.
Hain shares dropped 27% in one day in August, when the natural foods company revealed that it was "evaluating whether the revenue associated with those concessions was accounted for in the correct period and is also currently evaluating its internal control over financial reporting. 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 has not reported quarterly earnings since May 4, when it released its results for its fiscal third quarter, ending March 31.
"Accounting investigation limits visibility into financials and measured channel sales growth continues to lag broader natural/organic industry," Wells Fargo analyst John Baumgartner wrote.
Hain's board's audit committee completed its independent review of the accounting, finding "no evidence of intentional wrongdoing" but deciding that "the Company would not be in a position to release financial results until the completion of its internal accounting review and audit process." The investigation began with a review of timing of revenue recognition but subsequently expanded "to perform an analysis of previously-issued financial information in order to identify and assess any potential errors, which is ongoing," the Friday filing stated.
Founder Irwin Simon, who started the company in 1993, holds about 1.78% of its outstanding float.
Hain has long been named as an acquisition target for strategic buyers, including General Mills(GIS) - Get Report or Kellogg(K) - Get Report , hoping to grow their natural foods portfolios. Danone's blockbuster $12.5 billion bid for fellow natural foods company WhiteWave (WWAV) , which has not yet closed, sent Hain shares spiking.
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