Quick Vendor Accuses $10B Vegan Milk Maker Oatly of Accounting Fraud

Oatly commenced trading on the Nasdaq in late May following listing its first public offering at $17-for each-share, giving the company an implied valuation of $10 billion. Scott Olson/Getty Illustrations or photos

Immediately after taking down overhyped electrical automobile startups, battery makers and “meme” stocks, Wall Street’s ruthless shorter sellers are now right after trendy vegan startups whose merchandise and financials all seem to be way too great to be real.

On Wednesday, the hedge fund Spruce Place Money Administration unveiled a report taking purpose at Sweden-based mostly Oatly, accusing the vegan milk maker of deceptive traders and shoppers about its profits figures and sustainability tactics.

Oatly went community on Nasdaq in late May well and via the listing raised $1.4 billion in new funds. As of Tuesday’s near, the company was valued at $12 billion. But in accordance to Spruce Issue, its genuine value could be much less than half that volume.

In an investor presentation in June, Oatly executives claimed the company’s U.S. market had introduced in $12 million in revenue in 2018. Citing market place data from Nielson and Umgas Journal, a Swedish publication, Spruce Issue statements that Oatly’s U.S. profits were being just $6 million in 2018.

Its gain margin is also inflated, Spruce Issue suggests, noting that, when effectively factoring in logistics expenses, Oatly’s gross margin is about 6 % decrease than what it has said to traders.

“We notice durations of huge divergence in income and accounts receivable growth prices at Oatly,” the hedge fund’s report claims. “This is a common sign of possible accounting shenanigans and is usually cited as a best red flag to forecast accounting scandals.”

“We never believe any of this is in the narrative at the minute,” Spruce Level founder and Chief Financial commitment Officer Ben Axler told CNBC on Wednesday. “We think this is a sturdy sell, and the stock price tag could be 70 per cent overvalued.”

At the rear of the figures, Spruce Stage claims Oatly has also been deceptive investors about its environmental tactics. The hedge fund cited Oatly’s personal 2019 sustainability report, which confirmed that its New Jersey plant was making use of 55 p.c additional drinking water for just about every liter of oat foundation than its facilities in Europe. Nevertheless in its trader presentation last thirty day period, Oatly used manufacturing details from 2013, before its growth into the U.S.

Oatly was started in Sweden in 1994 but didn’t enter the U.S. industry until eventually 2016. It tends to make an oat-based mostly dairy substitute that is specifically common among espresso drinkers.

In its IPO submitting, Oatly said its profits experienced doubled in 2020 to $421.4 million. Web losses also just about doubled, from $35.6 million in 2019 to $60.4 million last year, as new marketplace growth enhanced prices.

Oatly shares fell 5 p.c Wednesday early morning right after the brief-seller report hit the net.

Short Seller Takes Aim at $10B Vegan Milk Maker Oatly: Neither Green Nor Profitable

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