Investigation of A.O. Smith Corporation
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A.O. Smith Corporation (AOS) Accused of Misleading Investors
A.O. Smith has operated in China for over 20 years. In 2018, A.O. Smith boasted “record” sales of $3.2 billion of which China sales exceeded $1 billion. However, in April 2019, A.O. Smith reported disappointing financial results, primarily due to plummeting Chinese sales. Quarterly earnings for the related segment fell over 65% year-over-year. On this news, A.O. Smith’s stock fell over 5%. A.O. Smith’s directors played it off as a temporary weakness related to macro events. Then in May 2019, J Capital Research USA LLC issued a scathing report on A.O. Smith’s China operations and its relationship with Jiangsu UTP Supply Chain (“UTP”), an undisclosed partner in China. The report charged A.O. Smith with inflating its sales and earnings figures, and revealed that UTP may be responsible for as much as 75% of A.O. Smith’s China sales. In response, A.O. Smith published a press release, which essentially admitted that the company had substantial interests in China with UTP and failed to stabilize its declining stock price. A.O. Smith’s stock closed at $43.26 per share on May 20, 2019, 36% below the class period high of $68 per share, and has yet to recover.
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