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Hain Celestial shares plunge after financial reporting news

An exterior of the Hain Celestial headquarters in

An exterior of the Hain Celestial headquarters in Lake Success on Nov. 24, 2015. Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan

Shares of Lake Success-based Hain Celestial Group Inc. plunged more than 20 percent Monday after the close of regular trading, following the company’s disclosure that it was evaluating its internal control over financial reporting and that it doesn’t expect to reach its previously announced revenue forecast for fiscal 2016.

The organic and natural products company, with brands including Celestial Seasonings, Earth’s Best, Terra and Spectrum, also announced in a statement it was delaying the release of its financial results for its fourth quarter and fiscal 2016, ended June 30.

Shares of Hain fell nearly 23 percent Monday in post-market trading to $41.27 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, dropping the company’s stock market capitalization by more than $1.25 billion.

A company representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hain Celestial said in the statement it is evaluating whether revenue associated with certain U.S. distributors was accounted for in the correct period.

“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 said in a 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 said that any potential changes in when it recognizes revenue should not change “the total amount of revenue ultimately recognized by the Company.” The audit committee of the company’s board of directors is conducting an independent review. It has also retained independent counsel to help with the review.

The financial reporting change is not bad news for the company, said Tammy Straus, audit partner for accounting firm Grassi & Co. based in Jericho.

“They are making the statement that it is a timing difference and that it would not affect total revenue,” Straus said. “If it was something where the distributor was shipping back product that couldn’t be sold, then Hain wouldn’t have characterized it that way.”

The company expects to get an automatic 15-day extension from the Securities and Exchange Commission of the filing deadline for the Form 10-K. The company will not release financial results until the completion of the independent review and the audit process, it said.

“Unfortunately, for Hain, this can be a time consuming and expensive process,” Straus said. “They are doing the right thing by looking back at former years, as well as the current year to see when revenue for the transactions should have been recorded.”

In May, Hain Celestial said it expected its fiscal 2016 revenue to be $2.946 billion to $2.966 billion, an increase of about 9 percent to 10 percent compared with fiscal 2015.

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