WASHINGTON, DC (August 28, 2017) — U.S. Market Advisors Law Group PLLC announces that a securities class action has been filed against Vitamin Shoppe, Inc. (“Vitamin Shoppe” or the “Company”)(NYSE:VSI). The class action is on behalf of investors who acquired Vitamin Shoppe common stock between March 1, 2017 and August 6, 2017.
Investors with losses have until October 27, 2017 to ask the Court to appoint you as Lead Plaintiff for the class. The Lead Plaintiff is a representative for absent members of the class. Investors do not need to seek appointment as Lead Plaintiff to share in any class recovery in this action. If you are a class member and there is a recovery for the class, you can share in that recovery as an absent class member. You may retain counsel of your choice to represent you in this action. Contact USMA Law Group to discuss this action.
Vitamin Shoppe is a multi-channel specialty retailer and contract manufacturer of vitamins, minerals, herbs, specialty supplements, sports nutrition, and other health and wellness products. The Company operates through three segments: retail, direct and manufacturing.
Retail sales at Vitamin Shoppe and its biggest competitor, GNC Holdings, Inc. (“GNC”) whose stock was also taken public in 2011, have been stunted since 2015 by competition from online and big-box retailers such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, Costco and Target. Since 2015, Vitamin Shoppe had been plagued by declining same-store sales, a weakening outlook and many analysts downgrading the stock.
Controlling shareholder Carlson Capital has forced numerous board changes since 2015. Meanwhile, during the second half of fiscal 2016, Vitamin Shoppe began undertaking what it referred to as “reinvention initiatives.”
Allegations Against Vitamin Shoppe
The Complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, Defendants issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the purported then-ongoing improvements being achieved, the Company’s profitability trends and its financial results. Specifically, on March 1, 2017, Defendants announced fiscal year 2016 (“FY16”) results and fiscal year 2017 (“FY17”) guidance and represented that despite anticipated flat to single-digit declines in same store sales during FY17, due to the “reinvention plan” then underway, Vitamin Shoppe was on track to deliver “[f]ully diluted earnings per share [EPS] in the range of $1.95 – $2.20” during FY17.
Unbeknownst to investors though, Defendants had improperly delayed recognizing a $168 million impairment charge to the carrying value of the Company’s retail sector, related goodwill. As a consequence, Vitamin Shoppe’s income and assets were materially overstated during the first and second fiscal quarters of 2017, and its financial results were not presented in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”). With the price of Vitamin Shoppe common stock artificially-inflated on these misstatements, certain of the Company’s top officers and directors cashed in immediately between March 2nd and March 7th selling $2.4 million in shares, including Defendant Markee, who alone sold 100,000 shares on March 2, 2017 for more than $2.22 million.
On May 10, 2017, Vitamin Shoppe announced financial results for the Company’s first quarter 2017 (“1Q17”) and lowered FY17 guidance. Vitamin Shoppe reported “GAAP fully diluted earnings per share of $0.35” for the 1Q17 and slashed FY17 guidance by more than 45% to “GAAP fully diluted earnings per share in the range of $1.03 – $1.28” for FY17. In an attempt to mollify investors by reassuring them that the reinvention plan was indeed succeeding, in order to prevent a free-fall in the price of Vitamin Shoppe common stock, Defendant Watts represented that “[w]hile the start of the year ha[d] been challenging, [defendants were] encouraged by the progress [they had] made on [the] major reinvention and cost reduction initiatives that [they] began developing and piloting over the last several months,” and that “[c]ustomer response to . . . pilots ha[d] given [them] confidence that these new initiatives should have a positive impact on [its] business trends starting in the back half of this year.”
Nonetheless, in response to the unexpected dramatic 45% reduction in FY17 EPS guidance, the price of Vitamin Shoppe stock declined by one-third on May 10th, falling more than $6 per share to close at $12.70 per share on extremely heavy trading volume.
Then on August 9, 2017, Vitamin Shoppe again shocked the market announcing that it was taking a $168 million impairment charge on the goodwill being carried on its books for its retail segment, and that as a result, Vitamin Shoppe would report a “GAAP loss per share of $6.73” in its second quarter 2017 (“2Q17”). And suddenly, citing “the potential increase in variability of the Company’s results due to the number of initiatives being launched in the back half of the year,” Vitamin Shoppe dropped FY17 EPS guidance altogether.
The price of Vitamin Shoppe common stock plunged further on this news, falling $3.50 per share to close at $6.10 per share, on unusually high trading volume of more than 5.1 million shares trading.
About USMA Law Group
U.S. Market Advisors Law Group PLLC is a national law firm based in Washington, D.C. The firm represents investors worldwide in U.S. securities class action lawsuits.
David P. Abel