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Archer-Daniels-Midland Company

Case Details

Class Period: April 30, 2020 - January 22, 2024
Date Filed: January 24, 2024
Case Number: 1:24-cv-00634
Jurisdiction: Northern District of Illinois
icon-casetype Case Type: Securities Case
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Case Summary

The lawsuit alleges that over the past decade, Archer-Daniels-Midland (“ADM”) has spent billions of dollars trying to expand its Nutrition business to protect against commodity price volatility in its legacy agricultural commodities trading business.

It is alleged that throughout the Class Period, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements, as well as failed to disclose material facts, about the performance and prospects of ADM’s Nutrition segment and its accounting practices. Specifically, Defendants made positive statements about the Nutrition segment as a future profit-driver for the Company, with the ability to capitalize on healthier eating trends and rising consumer demand for natural ingredients and flavoring. Defendants also created the impression that the Nutrition segment’s growth would provide more diversification and earnings stability for ADM.

Unbeknownst to investors, however, the Nutrition segment’s ostensibly impressive growth was inaccurate and subject to improper accounting practices, and Defendants also downplayed the segment’s eventual decline in 2023. As ADM was aggressively acquiring companies to expand its capabilities in Nutrition, investors were under the impression that the segment was growing rapidly. As alleged, Defendants’ accounting practices for the segment misrepresented its true financial results and prospects, including its operating profits (“OP”). During the Class Period, Defendants were incentivized to create the appearance of a diversified business by inflating the performance of the Nutrition segment, and the Individual Defendants were further incentivized by stock awards that were directly tied to the performance of the Nutrition segment from 2020 to 2022. As a result, ADM’s business and prospects were much worse than represented by Defendants, causing the price of ADM common stock to trade at artificially inflated levels during the Class Period.

On January 21, 2024, ADM announced that it had placed its CFO Vikram Luther on leave effective immediately. The Company said that Luther’s “leave is pending an ongoing investigation being conducted by outside counsel for ADM and the Board’s Audit Committee regarding certain accounting practices and procedures with respect to ADM’s Nutrition segment, including as related to certain intersegment transactions.” The Company also revealed that its investigation was initiated in response to its receipt of a voluntary document request by the SEC. As a result, ADM delayed its Q4 and FY 2023 earnings release and withdrew its outlook for the Nutrition segment.

On this news, the price of ADM common stock declined by $16.23 per share, or approximately 24%, from $68.19 per share to close at $51.69 on January 22, 2024, wiping out approximately $8.8 billion of ADM’s market value.

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