Kraft Heinz stock plunged -20% in pre-market trading Friday, a day after the company announced a write-down and revealed an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into its accounting policies.
The processed food giant’s Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands took a $15 billion write-down in value. Kraft Heinz also slashed its dividend by -36% to 40 cents per share, citing the need to manage its deleveraging process. According to the firm, the dividend cut would help boost returns over time.
What probably aggravated investor concerns was the disclosure by Kraft Heinz that it had received a subpoena from the SEC in October, regarding the company’s procurement accounting methods. Following the subpoena, the company began an internal investigation, as a result of which it added $25 million to the cost of products sold. The company, however, has also indicated that at present, the matter related to the subpoena should not significantly affect the firm’s earnings reported for the current or previous periods.
Kraft Heinz posted earnings of 84 cents a share on $6.89 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter 2018, thereby missing analysts’ expectations of earnings per share of 94 cents on revenue of $6.93 billion (based on Refinitiv survey).