A new front has opened in the ongoing war between outraged investors and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR), whose alleged accounting shenanigans have cast a huge pall over this $8.7 billion-market-cap company.
In the latest salvo of accusations against the company, the Louisiana Police Employees Retirement System has filed a class action suit against the underwriters of Green Mountain's May 2011 secondary stock offering. They've also sued management and the board of directors, as is customary in such situations.
So it seems that GMCR remains one of those "job creators" the Republican GOP candidates keep talking about. It is definitely creating jobs for lawyers.
The suit, which I've uploaded here and was filed late last month, significantly updates the recitation of events described in another class action suit which I described in an earlier post. It includes fresh allegations against the underwriters of the secondary offering, which are a lustrous roster of banking luminaries: Merrill Lynch, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey, William Blair & Co., Canaccord Genuity, Janney Montgomery Scott, Piper Jaffray, RBC Capital Markets, Wells Fargo Securities, Rabo Securities, and Santander Investment Securities.
All, I'm sure, will be protesting their innocence when their day in court arrives.
The secondary was for 7.1 million shares priced at $71 a share. Two officers of the company and two directors "seized the opportunity" (as the suit puts it) to sell some shares of their own. And what lovely timing it was because the manure was about to hit the fan.
As recounted in the suit, David Einhorn's presentation at the Value Investors Conference in October 2011 caused the stock to tank. Though much the same case had been made by Sam Antar in his widely followed blog, Einhorn's involvement added considerable impetus to concerns about the company. Einhorn is, of course, the short-seller who blew the whistle about accounting chicanery at Lehman Brothers well before the financial crisis of 2008.
Analysts working for some of the underwriters noted above went on the offensive after the Einhorn presentation, pushing hard the theme that Green Mountain Coffee is a wonderful but sorely misunderstood company. And they've kept up their hype campaign to the present day, shameless as ever.
First came SunTrust, with a rebuttal of Einhorn a few days after his presentation.
Canaccord chimed in shortly before Thanksgiving.
On Nov. 30, a day after the lawsuit was filed, William Blair upgraded the company, and Scott Van Winkle of Canaccord reiterated his "buy" rating and $94 price target for the company. Like his distant cousin Rip, Scott has been in a lengthy snooze, impervious to the rot in GMCR's balance sheet.
I ask you: Have you ever met a more grotesque bunch of nonentities than the analysts who follow Green Mountain Coffee Roasters?
I tell you, it's enough to make you reach for a cup of real coffee, not the slop produced by Green Mountain. Hell, even the analysts who cover the dog's breakfast Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) occasionally generate downgrades. These GMCR guys seem to be on an escalator that only goes up.
So there we are, folks. All the problems with Green Mountain's accounting and disclosures are laid out in the lawsuit. It's not rocket science. The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the company. That's nice, but what the hell do they have to probe? It's all been spoon-fed to them. When are they going to stop futzing around and do something?
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.