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Kraft Heinz stock craters to all-time low after company releases delayed earnings report

Key Points
  • Shares of Kraft Heinz fall after the packaged food giant said it's delaying its quarterly filing and discloses write-downs totaling $1.22 billion.
  • The company disclosed earlier this year it had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission into its accounting policies and internal controls.
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Kraft to delay second-quarter earnings filing

Shares of Kraft Heinz fell more than 13% on Thursday, hitting an all-time low, as a look at its second-quarter results showed further erosion in its business.

The company once again delayed the filing of its financial results with regulators, wrote down the value of its business by an additional $1.22 billion, and offered investors little insight into when the decline of its business might abate.

Shares of the food giant that was constructed by private equity firm 3G Capital and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway have fallen nearly 30% this year as sales have stalled and profit has dropped. It's had to defend a model based on cost-cutting and deal-making, as opportunities for both have dried up.

Characters at the Berkshire Hathaway company Kraft Heinz booth pose with a reporter at the shareholder shopping day as part of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, May 5, 2017.
Rick Wilking | Reuters

In hopes of a turnaround, it brought in former marketing executive Miguel Patricio as CEO earlier this year to shift its focus from cost-cutting to growing brands like Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, Planters and Jell-O. Patricio previously had been marketing chief at Anheuser-Busch InBev.

"The level of decline we experienced in the first half of this year is nothing we should find acceptable moving forward," Patricio said in a statement Thursday. " We have significant work ahead of us to set our strategic priorities and change the trajectory of our business."

The company disclosed earlier this year it had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission into its accounting policies and internal controls. The SEC investigation launched an internal review, which caused Kraft Heinz to twice delay filing its annual report.

In May, one of the company's biggest investors, Buffett, said Kraft Heinz was in "a dispute with its auditor. "

It filed that report in June, saying it had completed an internal review of its procurement practices. The internal review identified adjustments that resulted in an understatement of the cost of products sold totaling $208 million, including misstatements of $175 million.

Kraft Heinz then cautioned that the SEC investigation was ongoing.

In forms filed Thursday with the SEC, Kraft Heinz said it has to delay filing its quarterly reports for the first and second quarters of 2019 because management identified a "material weakness" regarding the "the level of precision" with which it allocated cash flow projections to certain brands, that impacted its assessment of goodwill and other assets.

Kraft Heinz said it has added "additional internal control procedures to enhance the level of precision."

In its preliminary second-quarter results, Kraft Heinz said its net income in the first half of the year was half the amount it was in the first six months of 2018.

Kraft Heinz said it would write down the value of its Eastern emerging markets, Brazilian, U.S. refrigerated and Latin America exports businesses by about $744 million. In addition, it recorded a $474 million write-down of its Miracle Whip, Velveeta, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Philadelphia and Cool Whip brands.

Kraft Heinz had hired an investment bank earlier this year to explore options, including a sale, for its Maxwell House brand, but has so far faced tepid interest.

It also pulled the sale of its Breakstone's sour cream and cottage cheese and Plasmon baby food brands, as well as put the potential sale of its Ore-Ida frozen potato business on the back burner, CNBC has reported. 

Earlier this year, the company wrote down two of its biggest brands, Kraft and Oscar Mayer, by $15 billion.

For the second quarter ended June 29, Kraft earned $449 million, or 37 cents per share, down from $754 million, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding the impairment charges, Kraft earned 78 cents per share, which was better than the 75 cents per share analysts had expected.

Revenue fell to $6.41 billion, from $6.69 billion a year ago. Sales also were short of estimates of $6.58 billion.

The company also didn't provide an outlook for this year's financial targets.

"We have a big agenda to build," Patricio said. "We have a second half to deliver. But I think that working on targets will not help. But second, since I've been here just for 40 days, I wouldn't feel comfortable about giving a guidance that I still do not have the necessary confidence about that number."