US SEC charges Newell Brands and ex-CEO with misleading investors

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged Newell Brands and former CEO Michael Polk with misleading investors about sales.

In a settlement, Newell and Polk, without admitting or denying the SEC findings, agreed to pay civil penalties of $12.5 million and $110,000, respectively, the SEC said in a statement.

The SEC said Newell, a Georgia-based consumer products company, and Polk, “took actions that increased the company’s publicly disclosed core sales growth in ways that were out of step with Newell’s actual but undisclosed sales trends, allowing the company to announce “strong” or “solid” results in quarters it internally described as disappointing due to shortfalls in sales.”

Newell pulled sales forward into earlier quarters without adequate disclosure and used accounting practices that were not consistent with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the SEC order said.

These actions made the company’s core sales growth look as if it was in line with its targets and deprived investors of an accurate picture of Newell’s actual sales trends, it said.

(This story has been refiled to remove an extra word in paragraph 1)

(Reporting By Doina Chiacu; Editing by Nick Zieminski)