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Hain Celestial’s accounting practices investigated by SEC

Hain Celestial is headquartered on Marcus Avenue in

Hain Celestial is headquartered on Marcus Avenue in Lake Success. Credit: Barry Sloan

Organic and natural products maker Hain Celestial Group Inc. disclosed Friday that it is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its accounting practices.

The Lake Success-based company said in a regulatory filing late Friday that the SEC has issued a “formal order of investigation” and issued a subpoena seeking relevant documents.

“The Company is in the process of responding to the SEC’s requests for information and intends to cooperate fully with the SEC,” according to the filing.

Hain Celestial voluntarily contacted the SEC in August to notify it that the company was delaying the release of its financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal 2016, ended June 30, as well as the performance of the independent review conducted by the audit committee of the company’s board of directors, the filing said.

In November the company said the audit committee found “no evidence of intentional wrongdoing” in connection with the company’s financial reporting after an independent review of its accounting with external counsel into whether revenue from certain U.S. distributors was recorded in the correct period.

Hain Celestial, whose brands including Celestial Seasonings tea, Earth’s Best baby food, Terra chips and Spectrum oils, had been recognizing revenue when products were shipped to distributors rather than when the products are sold through its distributors to customers.

“In August we voluntarily, or self-reported, to the SEC delay in filing of our financial results and have been responding to their requests for information,” Mary Celeste Anthes, Hain Celestial’s senior vice president of corporate relations, said in an email late Friday.

In the filing Friday, Hain Celestial also said it will not release financial results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016 by its original filing due date of Feb. 9. The company also has not filed results for the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Hain Celestial disclosed the news after the end of regular trading. Its shares dropped more than 5 percent to $36.60 in after-hours trading.

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