Professor XXX XXXX
Month xx, xxxx
Krispy Kreme was founded by Vernon Rudolph after he purchased the famous secret recipe of yeast-raised doughnuts in 1937 from a French chef in New Orleans. Rudolph began to sell these doughnuts wholesale to supermarkets. The demand for his doughnuts grew quickly, and by cutting a hole in the wall of the factory to sell directly to customers the concept of Krispy Kreme retail stores was born.
The retail concept for Krispy Kreme doughnuts allowed Rudolph to grow his factory stores to 29 shops in 12 states by the late 1950’s. When Rudolph died in 973 Beatrice Foods bought his company and expanded it to more than 100 locations and expanded the menu to include soups and sandwiches. Beatrice tried to reduce costs by changing the appearance of the stores and using cheaper ingredients. This negatively affected the company and Beatrice sold the company to a group of franchise owners. This group of owners was led by Joseph McAleer, who was the first Krispy Kreme franchisee. The leveraged buyout was completed for $24 million in 1982. The new group brought back the original recipe and logo. By 1989 the group was almost debt free and they were beginning to expand. The company CEO, Scott Livengood, took the company public in April of 2000. The share price after the first day was $40.63.
Holes in Doughnut Accounting Practices
In May of 2004 Krispy Kreme announced to its investors that they should expect earnings to be 10% lower than predicted. It was at this time that the low-carb diet had taken the U.S by storm, and Krispy Kreme blamed this low-carb diet for their low wholesale and retail sales. They also announced the sales of a the Montana Mills bakery chain of 28 bakery café’s that had been acquired in January of 2003 for $40 million in stock. Krispy Kreme also announced that the Hot Doughnut and Coffee Shops were falling short of expectations and three of them were closing at a cost of $7 to $8 million. Krispy Kreme (KKD) stock price closed down 30% that day. Shortly after on May 25th, 2004 when the Wall Street Journal published a story about how Krispy Kreme handled is accounting for franchise acquisitions. According to the article Krispy Kreme recorded the interest paid by the franchisee as interest income for immediate profit, except that Krispy Kreme booked the purchase cost of the franchise as an intangible asset and did not amortize it. In the repurchase agreement of the 7 stores in Michigan, they allowed one of the franchises top executives to stay on with the company after the repurchase. This executive left the company shortly after closing the deal, and had to pay him $5 million in severance which Krispy Kreme also rolled into the unamortized-asset category. Krispy Kreme claimed it followed GAAP standards and had done nothing wrong.
The final shoe to drop as on July 29th, 2004 when Krispy Kreme announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had launched an informal investigation related to “franchise reacquisitions and the company’s previously announced reduction in earning guidance”. Krispy Kreme (KK) shares fell another 15%.
The revelations about the companies accounting practices and showing interest as immediate income and not amortizing the repurchased franchises but rather showing them as intangible assets alone could justify the devaluation of their stock price by approx. 45%. Couple their earnings decline and the announcement of store closings and it easily can be justified. Couple that with the fear of the unknown. If Krispy Kreme was treating their interest and reacquired franchises as they were which seems to be blatantly wrong, what else might the SEC find during their investigation? This fear would certainly drive investors away and their share price down. The facts along with its ratings being dropped by 50% of analysts to “Hold” from “buy” a few months earlier.