Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C. Reminds Investors That Class Action Lawsuits Have Been Filed Against Hertz, Humana, Fat Brands, and Scotts and Encourages Investors to Contact the Firm

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NEW YORK, June 30, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C., a nationally recognized shareholder rights law firm, reminds investors that class actions have been commenced on behalf of stockholders of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HTZ), Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), FAT Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: FAT), and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG). Stockholders have until the deadlines below to petition the court to serve as lead plaintiff. Additional information about each case can be found at the link provided.

Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HTZ)

Class Period: April 27, 2023 – April 24, 2024

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Lead Plaintiff Deadline: July 30, 2024

Hertz is a vehicle rental company that offers both internal combustion engine (“ICE”) vehicle and electric vehicle (“EV”) rental services from Company-operated, licensee, and franchisee locations across various countries. The Company also sells vehicles and value-added services.

With hundreds of thousands of vehicles in its rental fleet, accurately measuring vehicle depreciation—i.e., the decrease in value of the various vehicles in its fleet over time—is critical to Hertz’s profitability.

In October 2021, Hertz announced that, “[a]s consumer interest in [EVs] skyrockets,” the Company made “a significant investment to offer the largest EV rental fleet in North America and one of the largest in the world[,]” including “an initial order of 100,000 Teslas by the end of 2022 and new EV charging infrastructure across the company’s global operations.” The Company thereafter entered into multiple strategic partnerships with cities and others to promote its EV rental business, and concurrently continued to expand its EV fleet.

The Complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business, operations, and prospects. Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) Hertz had downplayed the financial impact of vehicle depreciation, and/or overstated its ability to track and manage vehicle depreciation; (ii) demand for Hertz’s EVs was not as strong as Defendants had led investors to believe; (iii) Hertz had too many vehicles, particularly EVs, in its fleet to remain profitable; (iv) as a result of all the foregoing, Hertz was likely to incur significant losses on the disposition of both its ICE vehicles and EVs; (v) all the foregoing was likely to, and did, have a significant negative impact on Hertz’s financial results; and (vi) as a result, the Company’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.

On January 11, 2024, Hertz revealed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it would sell approximately 20,000 EVs from its U.S. fleet, or about one-third of its global EV fleet, “to better balance supply against expected demand of EVs.” According to the Company, this would “result in the recognition, during the fourth quarter of 2023, of approximately $245 million of incremental net depreciation expense related to the sale[,]” which “represents the write down of the EVs’ carrying values as of December 31, 2023 to their fair values, less related expenses associated with the disposition of the vehicles.” Hertz further advised that “Adjusted Corporate EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2023 will be negatively impacted by the incremental net depreciation expense associated with the EV sales plan, and further burdened by higher depreciation expense in the ordinary course as residual values for vehicles generally fell throughout the quarter greater than previously expected.”

On this news, Hertz’s stock price fell $0.40 per share, or 4.28%, to close at $8.95 per share on January 11, 2024.

On March 15, 2024, Hertz announced that Defendant Stephen M. Scherr (“Scherr”) would resign from his roles as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and Chairman of the Board of Directors by the end of the month, and that the Company had appointed Wayne Gilbert West as its new CEO.

Then, on April 25, 2024, Hertz issued a press release announcing its first quarter 2024 results. Among other items, Hertz reported adjusted diluted earnings-per-share (“EPS”) of -$1.28 for the quarter, well short of the consensus estimate of -$0.43, and far worse than the adjusted diluted EPS of $0.39 that the Company had achieved in the same period the year prior. In discussing these results, Hertz revealed that vehicle depreciation in the quarter increased $588 million, or $339 on a per-unit basis, primarily driven by deterioration in estimated forward residual values and disposition losses on ICE vehicles compared to gains in the prior-year quarter. The Company also disclosed that, of the $339 per unit increase, $119 was related to EVs held for sale. Moreover, Hertz reported a $195 million charge to vehicle depreciation to write down EVs held for sale that were remaining in inventory at quarter-end to fair value and to recognize the disposition losses on EVs sold in the period.

On this news, Hertz’s stock price fell $1.12 per share, or 19.31%, to close at $4.68 per share on April 25, 2024.

For more information on the Hertz class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/HTZ

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM)

Class Period: July 27, 2022 – January 24, 2024 (Common Stock Only)

Lead Plaintiff Deadline: August 2, 2024

The Humana class action lawsuit alleges that defendants throughout the Class Period made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that defendants downplayed pressures on Humana’s adjusted earnings-per-share resulting from increased medical costs associated with pent-up demand for healthcare procedures (especially as COVID concerns abated) which, contrary to Humana’s assurances, resulted in increased utilization rates and costs.

The Humana class action lawsuit further alleges that on June 13, 2023, UnitedHealth Group Inc., one of Humana’s principal health insurer competitors, revealed that it was seeing “higher levels” of outpatient care activity and suggested that this higher utilization was due to “pent-up demand or delayed demand being satisfied.” On this news, the price of Humana common stock fell more than 11%, according to the complaint.

Then, on June 16, 2023, the Humana class action lawsuit further alleges that Humana reported “higher than anticipated non-inpatient utilization trends, predominately in the categories of emergency room, outpatient surgeries, and dental services, as well as inpatient trends that have been stronger than anticipated in recent weeks, diverging from historical seasonality patterns.” On this news, the price of Humana common stock fell, according to the complaint.

The Humana class action lawsuit further alleges that on January 18, 2024, Humana revealed that its benefits expense ratio had increased to approximately 91.4% for the fourth quarter of 2023 and approximately 88% for the full year 2023. On this news, the price of Humana common stock fell nearly 8%, according to the complaint.

Finally, on January 25, 2024, the complaint further alleges that Humana announced a loss of $4.42 per share for the fourth quarter of 2023 that was “driven by higher than anticipated inpatient utilization . . . and a further increase in non-inpatient trends,” and stated that it expected the higher level of medical costs would “persist throughout 2024.” On this news, the price of Humana common stock fell nearly 12%, according to the Humana class action lawsuit.

For more information on the Humana class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/HUM

FAT Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: FAT)

Class Period: March 24, 2022 – May 10, 2024

Lead Plaintiff Deadline: August 6, 2024

According to the lawsuit, defendants throughout the Class Period made materially false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) defendants failed to disclose that Andrew A. Wiederhorn, the Company’s Chairman and former CEO, had received improper payments from the Company, exposing FAT Brands to criminal liability; and (2) as a result, defendants’ statements about its business, operations, and prospects, were materially false and misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis at all times.

For more information on the Fat Brands class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/FAT

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG)

Class Period: November 3, 2021 – August 1, 2023

Lead Plaintiff Deadline: August 2, 2024

Scotts produces various lawn, garden, and agricultural products for both consumer and professional purposes. It is also the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care. In 2014, Scotts formed a wholly owned subsidiary, The Hawthorne Gardening Company, which focuses on hydroponics for the emerging cannabis growing market. The Company sells a vast majority of its products through third-party distributors.

During the Class Period, Scotts was highly leveraged, with its senior secured credit facilities containing various restrictive covenants and cross-default provisions that require the Company maintain specific financial ratios. A breach of any of these covenants could result in a default, enabling the Company’s lenders to declare all outstanding indebtedness immediately due and payable. A key covenant required that Scotts maintain a debt-to-EBITDA ratio under 6.25. In 2020 and 2021, prior to the beginning of the Class Period, Scotts had missed out on millions of dollars in sales due to a lack of inventory as it faced surging demand. In response to this strong demand, Scotts significantly increased its inventory.

The complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, Defendants made numerous materially false and misleading statements and omissions concerning the Company’s inventory levels, debt covenant compliance, and financial performance. Specifically, Defendants repeatedly assured investors that the Company’s inventory levels were appropriate, while attributing strong sales to “selling through high-cost inventory,” which resulted in “peak selling” and “record” shipments. Defendants also repeatedly assuaged investors’ concerns about the Company’s debt, stating that they were “optimistic we will remain within the bounds of our bank covenants” and “[did] not see leverage compliance issues going forward.” As a result of these misrepresentations, Scotts common stock traded at artificially inflated prices during the Class Period.

The complaint further alleges that in reality, Scotts’ executives engaged in a scheme to saturate the Company’s sales channels with more inventory than could be sold to end users. This scheme enabled Scotts to book as revenue the sales to its distributors and maintain earnings to debt ratios that just barely exceeded those required by its debt covenants.

The complaint further alleges that the truth began to emerge on June 8, 2022, when Scotts revealed that replenishment orders from its U.S. retailers were $300 million below target in the month of May alone. The Company also cut its 2022 full-year earnings guidance by roughly half and announced plans to take on additional debt to cover restructuring charges as it attempted to cut costs. These disclosures came mere weeks after the Company promised that it was “tracking to do even better” than its guidance. However, throughout the rest of the Class Period, Defendants continued to downplay the Company’s inventory and debt compliance issues.

Then, on August 2, 2023, Scotts revealed that quarterly sales for its fiscal third quarter had declined by 6% and gross margins fell by 420 basis points. The Company also slashed fiscal year EBITDA guidance by a staggering 25% and announced it had to take a $20 million write down for “pandemic driven excess inventories.” Scotts further disclosed that it had to modify its debt covenants from 6.25 times debt-to-EBITDA ratio to 7.00 times debt-to-EBITDA ratio. As a result of these disclosures, the price of Scotts common stock declined precipitously.

For more information on the Scotts class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/SMG

About Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C.:

Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C. is a nationally recognized law firm with offices in New York, California, and South Carolina. The firm represents individual and institutional investors in commercial, securities, derivative, and other complex litigation in state and federal courts across the country. For more information about the firm, please visit www.bespc.com. Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee similar outcomes.

Contact Information:

Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C.
Brandon Walker, Esq.
Marion Passmore, Esq.
(212) 355-4648
[email protected]
www.bespc.com

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