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Shares of world’s largest footwear maker plunge on false sales data

Shares of Pou Sheng and its shareholder Yue Yuen plunge in Hong Kong after the retailer fired its CFO for publishing false sales data

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 3:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 11:02pm

Pou Sheng International Ltd, a unit of the world’s largest producer of branded footwear, recorded the largest intraday plunge in its stock price since 2008, after firing its chief financial officer for publishing inaccurate sales figures, and announced the departure of its chief executive.

Shares of the company tumbled as much as 37 per cent to an intraday low of HK$1.30 in Hong Kong, wiping out HK$4.1 billion of its value. Share prices of Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings, the 62 per cent shareholder of Pou Sheng, fell as much as 9.8 per cent.

“The Company discovered on 6 January 2017 certain incorrect sales records in the month of December 2016, which could potentially lead to recognition of revenue for sales transactions that did not take place before end of year 2016,” Pou Sheng said in its filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“The incident revealed weakness over the financial controls,”the Hong Kong-based company said, even though the relevant figures were not significant compared with the group’s overall revenue and did not materially affect any financial information published prior to the announcement.

The retailer said it has sacked CFO Chen Luo-leng, while CEO Kwan Heh-Der has resigned.

Pou Sheng is a spin off of Taiwan’s apparel and footwear maker Yue Yuen, which owns factories in mainland China, Vietnam and Indonesia, producing 300 million pairs of shoes every year for Nike, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, Puma and Timberland.

Deloitte has been hired by the Hong Kong-based retailer to carry out a check on accounting records of the company, Pou Sheng said.

Pou Sheng has been in a tight financial spot for the past few quarters, as same store sales growth -- a crucial gauge on a retailer’ s business well-being -- slowed to 4.6 per cent for the first three quarters of the year from 6.7 per cent for the first half, spurring investor concerns over its long-term prospects.

The incident has triggered a series of downgrades by research houses on Pousheng and Yue Yuen’s shares.

“We are worried that a slowdown in Yue Yuen’s retail arm will only be more severe than what the market had feared, and the resignation of the CEO could lead to near term disruption of the company, indirectly affecting Yue Yuen’s financial performance,”a UBS report issued Monday said.

Credit Suisse cut Yue Yuen’s rating to Underperform from Neutral, as it reckoned its earnings will be weighed down by a projected decline in Pou Sheng’s net profits, according to a Monday note. “This should significantly affect operations and financials of Pou Sheng in the near-term,”the investment bank suggested.

However, Hugo Suen, an analyst with Sunwah Kingsway, painted a slightly rosier picture for Pou Sheng.

“After all, this company has the best international sports brands [as its business partners], and the swift action by the board should be able to rescue its reputation in the long term,” Suen said.

Pou Sheng closed Monday trading at HK$1.61, down 22.22 per cent while Yue Yuen erased some of the earlier losses to settle 6.88 per cent down from the previous close at HK$27.05.

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