SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Diamond Foods Inc. said Monday that it will delay filing its fiscal first-quarter results due to an ongoing investigation by its audit committee into the accounting for its walnut payments.
Its stock slid $8.50, or 21 percent, to $32.06 in morning trading Monday. Over the last year, the shares have traded between $26.37 and $96.13.
The company, which makes products such as Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret popcorn, disclosed last month that several securities class-action lawsuits have been filed in connection with the walnut payment controversy. More lawsuits are expected.
The dispute has already led to a delay in its attempted $1.5 billion acquisition of Pringles, the chip company, from Procter & Gamble Co.
Diamond Foods said Monday that its audit committee expects to be able to finish its investigation by the middle of February. The San Francisco company said that it will look to file its quarterly results "as soon as practicable" after the audit committee's investigation ends.
Diamond said that it anticipates the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications department sending it a deficiency notice and that it plans to submit a plan to regain compliance as soon as possible. The company said its shares will continue to list and be traded on the Nasdaq exchange during this time.
Diamond's announcement that it would delay filing its quarterly results came on the same day that The Wall Street Journal reported that the company has said that part of its payment to walnut growers in September was an advance for their 2011 crop. But three growers said that they never planned to deliver 2011 crops to Diamond and were told by the company that they could cash their checks anyway — that they were additional payments for their 2010 crops.
In an email sent to The Associated Press, Diamond said that its agreements with its growers are confidential and that it does not comment on them publicly.