Just how worried should investors at grocer Fresh Brands
Here's the problem for the company that operates under the Dick's and Piggly Wiggly banners in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois: CEO Elwood Winn had been with the company since 1999, acting as CEO for nearly three years and as CFO since September -- his third stint in that particular spot. His latest tour began when Pat Plumley left in mid-September after coming on board in January.
And while the company said Plumley's departure was "not related to any accounting or financial issues," it just so happened to coincide with some. Fresh Brands announced fiscal third-quarter results on November 4, then revised them nine days later. During that time, the company decided it had to boost a pre-tax charge for uncollectable receivables from franchisees substantially.
That and further internal investigation taking into account "marketplace and competitive trends" resulted in the company restating Q3 results significantly. Net income, for example, fell by a third.
In public statements Fresh Brands hasn't taken the discussion much further. As a result, it's tough to say that a disaster akin to what befell jeweler Friedman's
Investors, however, are being cautious. The company's shares have fallen some 20% in recent months as trading volume has ticked upward. With the latest news compounding more general concerns about the company's competitive position and growth prospects, it's easy to understand why.