Why Hain Celestial’s Problems Might Not Stop Here

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Shares of Hain Celestial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HAIN) were in free fall early Tuesday after the company announced that it will delay the release of its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results. The company said that this delay was in relation to its accounting. However, there was additional fallout as multiple securities litigation firms are now investigating the company in regards to this delay.

At the same time, Hain did away with its fiscal full year guidance. So investors must be asking themselves if this is just a one-quarter problem, or how far this issue will span.

During the fourth quarter, Hain identified concessions that were granted to certain distributors in the United States. The company currently is evaluating whether the revenue associated with those concessions was accounted for in the correct period, and it also currently is evaluating its internal control over financial reporting.

The Audit Committee of the company’s board of directors is conducting an independent review and has retained independent counsel to assist in that review. Hain will be unable to release its results until this review is completed.

In its press release Hain detailed:

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. 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 expects that any potential changes in the timing of the recognition of revenue with respect to these transactions should not impact the total amount of revenue ultimately recognized by the Company with respect to such distributors and does not reflect on the validity of the underlying transactions with respect to such distributors.

However the operative word is “ultimately,” and it may be some time before everything ultimately is set straight.

Analysts did not take too kindly to this news and a few downgraded the company:

  • Atlantic Securities downgraded it to an Underweight rating from Neutral.
  • Piper Jaffray also downgraded it to an Underweight rating from Neutral.
  • SunTrust Banks downgraded it to a Neutral rating from Buy.
  • Barclays downgraded it to Equal Weight from Overweight and lowered its price target to $43 from $51.
  • Wedbush downgraded it to Neutral from Outperform and lowered its price target from $51 to $37.

Merrill Lynch also weighed in on the stock, downgrading it to an Underperform rating and cutting the price objective to $36. The firm noted two issues that concern it. First, the company is evaluating its internal controls. Second, Hain will miss its prior 2016 fiscal year guidance.

Shares of Hain Celestial were last seen down 27% at $38.96. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $51.61 and a 52-week trading range of $33.12 to $66.78.