<!– Name:DistributionId Value:8786168 –> <!– Name:EnableQuoteCarouselOnPnr Value:False –> <!– Name:IcbCode Value:5377 –> <!– Name:CustomerId Value:1111969 –> <!– Name:HasMediaSnippet Value:false –> <!– Name:AnalyticsTrackingId Value:3a09247a-fafc-4fa2-82a2-7c8564f42847 –>
NEW YORK, March 12, 2023 (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 Cognyte Software Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGNT), Dutch Bros Inc. (NYSE: BROS), Lumen Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: LUMN), and Vertex Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: VTNR). 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.
Cognyte Software Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGNT)
Class Period: February 2, 2021 – June 28, 2022
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: May 1, 2023
On December 16, 2021, after the market closed, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, issued a “Threat Report,” which included the results of its “months long” investigation into the “surveillance-for-hire industry,” revealing for the first time that Cognyte (along with six private companies) regularly targeted, without their knowledge, journalists, dissidents, critics of authoritarian regimes, families of opposition, and human rights activists around the world, and collected intelligence on these people by manipulating them to reveal information and/or by compromising their devices and accounts, in violation of Facebook’s “multiple community standards and Terms of Service.” In particular, the Threat Report revealed that Cognyte “sells access to its platform which enables managing fake accounts across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and VKontakte (VK), and other websites to social-engineer people and collect data.” This conduct “violated multiple Community Standards and Terms of Service,” and “given the severity of their violations,” Meta disabled Cognyte’s ability to use its platforms (removing about 100 accounts on Facebook and Instagram), shared is findings with security researchers, other platforms, and policymakers, issued Cease and Desist warnings, and alerted the nearly 50,000 individuals (across 100 countries) who were believed to be targeted to help them strengthen the security of their accounts.
On this news, the price of Cognyte’s common stock fell 5.11%, closing on December 17, 2021, at $18 per share, before declining another 5.5% the next trading day. By December 22, 2021, Cognyte’s stock had fallen to trade at $15 per share, representing a decline of nearly 21%.
Then, on April 5, 2022, Cognyte issued its Annual Report on Form 20-F for the period ended January 31, 2022 (the “2021 Annual Report”), revealing that the Company was forced to modify its solutions in response to the Threat Report, stating in relevant part:
On the same day it published its 2021 Annual Report, Cognyte reported its fourth quarter 2021 financial results, representing the period during which Facebook disrupted and disabled Cognyte’s use of its platforms for purposes of reconnaissance. Cognyte badly missed analyst consensus estimates for non-GAAP earnings per share and sales, and significantly undershot the midpoint of its guidance range by several millions of dollars, citing in the Company’s accompanying press release “lower conversions within [its] product pipeline,” among other macroenvironmental challenges. Specifically, the Company’s non-GAAP earnings of $0.16 per share were not only down significantly from the $0.36 per share it earned in the year-ago quarter but also $0.06 per share below analysts’ expectations of $0.22 per share. Similarly, Cognyte’s sales of $124.9 million, representing a less than 1% increase from the year-ago period, also came significantly below analysts’ consensus estimate of $129.6 million.
The response from analysts was swift with many reducing their price targets, including Wedbush, who lowered their price target from $17 to $9 and concluded: [T]he Cognyte business model is turning into a debacle of [ ] epic proportions for investors that once believed in the story. Since the spin-off from Verint over the past year, the Cognyte story ha[s] been a nightmare for investors as the execution shortfalls, longer sales cycles, and myriad of challenges has created a perfect storm for the Street. Most troubling to us is that CGNT was unable to guide for 1Q23 and 2023, which means to us that management may not have their arms around the sales execution and headwinds in our opinion.
The market also responded immediately and harshly. Cognyte’s stock price plummeted over 31% on unusually high trading volume, closing at $8.03 per share on April 5, 2022, which was down $3.63 per share from its April 4, 2022 close of $11.66 per share.
Then, on June 28, 2022, Cognyte released its first quarter 2022 financial results, which, once again, badly missed analyst estimates across the board. Cognyte’s 1Q22 revenue of $87 million, for example, represented a decline of 25%. Analysts were expecting a decline of 2%.
In response, analysts immediately downgraded the Company’s rating and reduced their price targets. William Blair, for example, downgraded Cognyte to “market perform” and concluded that Cognyte’s “low pipeline conversion” issues were a symptom of a broader problem, stating in relevant part:
Cognyte’s brand has been negatively impacted by increased scrutiny of the cyber intelligence industry and fellow Israel cyber surveillance firm NSO Group. Last fall, the U.S. government blacklisted the NSO Group after a multitude of reports surfaced that its software was being used inappropriately by governments to spy on citizens with dissenting views. While we believe there is value to cyber intelligence we believe that it is important for investors and customers that there are rigid safeguards in place and high transparency to ensure that the software is used in an ethical manner.
On this news, Cognyte’s shares declined $1.84, or over 28.66%, to close at $4.58 per share.
For more information on the Cognyte class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/CGNT
Dutch Bros Inc. (NYSE: BROS)
Class Period: March 1, 2022 – May 11, 2022
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: May 1, 2023
Dutch Bros operates and franchises drive-thru coffee shops. The Company also sells and distributes coffee and coffee-related products and accessories. The Company claims that as of March 31, 2022, it had 572 shops in operation in 12 U.S. states, of which 310 were companyoperated and 262 were franchised.
On March 1, 2022, two-thirds of the way through the Company’s first quarter of 2022, Dutch Bros held a conference call to discuss its fourth quarter and full year 2021 results. On the call, Defendants made numerous statements reassuring investors that the Company’s first quarter 2022 results would be positive, and in particular that the Company’s margins were healthy. For example, Defendant Jonathan “Joth” Ricci (“Ricci”), the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) stated that, while Dutch Bros is “not immune to margin pressures,” the Company was “managing it appropriately” and that “we are feeling good as we enter ‘22 with the trajectory of our margins, given everything going on.” Defendant Charles L. Jemley (“Jemley”), the Company’s Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) similarly stated “we’re just not feeling compression in margins.”
However, on May 11, 2022, after the market closed, the Company issued a press release announcing poor financial results for the first quarter of 2022. Therein, the Company reported a net loss of $16.3 million, compared to a net loss of $4.8 million for the first quarter of 2021. The Company also reported an adjusted net loss of $2.5 million (a loss of $0.02 per share), which fell below the Street’s estimated earnings of $0.01 per share.
The same day, the Company held a conference call to discuss the Company’s first quarter 2022 results. To explain the Company’s poor performance, Defendant Ricci pointed to Dutch Bros’ margins, stating:
[M]argin pressure on our company shops led to a lower adjusted EBITDA result than we expected. That margin pressure was primarily a result of these factors: our decision to be disciplined on the price we took, which we believe is less than half as much as many of our peers; faster inflation and cost of goods, especially in dairy; the pull forward of deferred expenses related to the maintenance of shops; and normal new store inefficiency amplified by the volume of new and ramping units in quarter 1.
Defendant Ricci further explained: “we did not perceive the speed and magnitude of cost escalation within the quarter. Dairy, for example, which makes up 28% of our commodity basket, rose almost 25% in Q1.”
On this news, Dutch Bros’ share price fell $9.26, or 26.9%, to close at $25.11 per share on May 12, 2022, thereby injuring investors.
During the Class Period, Defendants made materially false and/or misleading statements, and failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects. Specifically, Defendants failed to disclose to investors: (1) that the Company was experiencing increased costs and expenses, including on dairy; (2) that, as a result, the Company was experiencing increased margin pressure and decreased profitability in the first quarter of 2022; and (3) that, as a result of the foregoing, Defendants’ positive statements about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects were materially misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis.
For more information on the Dutch Bros class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/BROS
Lumen Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: LUMN)
Class Period: September 14, 2020 – February 7, 2023
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: May 2, 2023
At the outset of the Class Period, Lumen announced it would redefine its business by renaming itself from CenturyLink to Lumen and refining its marketing approach, cutting off market segments and operations that did not align with the Company’s strategic objectives and adding market segments that were aligned with the Company’s vision.
Specifically, Lumen announced to investors that it would leverage its existing 400,000 route miles of fiber optic cable, which had previously serviced enterprise and wholesale markets, to expand its fiber services to small and medium business (“SMB”) and residential or consumer markets. Lumen represented to investors that expanding its fiber services into the SMB and residential markets, branded as Quantum Fiber, was a natural fit for the Company that represented a strong opportunity for growth.
Throughout the Class Period, Defendants represented to investors and the public that Lumen was, among other things, “investing heavily in our consumer fiber business” and “aggressively taking market share in our small business segment.” Defendants also represented that “we continue expanding our Quantum Fiber footprint and increasing our penetration” and “we’re not capital-constrained. So as we continue to improve our penetration and performance, we’ll continue to expand our footprint, and we believe we’ve got a long runway for growth in — within Lumen in Quantum Fiber.”
However, contrary to Defendants’ statements touting the rate of investment and progress in expanding fiber services to SMB and residential markets, Lumen was experiencing serious headwinds that were impeding its ability to grow its newly-targeted fiber markets.
Beginning on February 9, 2022, Defendants began to admit that Lumen’s expansion into SMB and residential fiber services was occurring slower than previously represented. On this news, Lumen’s stock price declined $1.99, from a close of $12.82 per share on February 9, 2022, to a close of $10.83 on February 10, 2022.
On November 2, 2022, Defendants continued to partially disclose the truth when Lumen’s Chief Executive Officer admitted, “let me be clear, we are not yet at the pace of build we expect or want” with respect to the Company’s development of its Quantum Fiber brand. On this news, Lumen’s stock price declined $1.25, from a close of $7.05 per share on November 2, 2022, to a close of $5.80 on November 3, 2022.
By February 7, 2023, Defendants would admit, contrary to what was previously represented, that they had pressed “more of a stop button than a pause button” on Lumen’s investment into the Quantum Fiber network and expansion into the SMB and residential markets while the Company re-evaluated its strategic priorities. The price of Lumen’s common stock had been artificially inflated by Defendants’ misrepresentations about the Company’s progress expanding into SMB and residential markets. Upon the news that Lumen’s progress was slower than represented and that Lumen had stopped investing in the expansion of its Quantum Fiber network, the price of Lumen’s common stock plummeted as the artificial inflation was removed from the price. On this news, Lumen’s stock price declined $1.04, from a close of $4.99 per share on February 7, 2023, to a close of $3.95 on February 8, 2023.
For more information on the Lumen class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/LUMN
Vertex Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: VTNR)
Class Period: April 1, 2022 – August 8, 2022
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: May 2, 2023
According to the Complaint, the Company made false and misleading statements to the market. Vertex announced it would acquire an oil refinery in Mobile, Alabama, with the plan to partially convert it for the production of renewable diesel fuel, which it claimed would improve profitability. The Company were involved in transactions, including the financing arrangement to purchase the refinery, that would lead to significant losses after the acquisition. In fact, these transactions caused the Company to lose $125 million in loses during the class period. Based on these facts, the Company’s public statements were false and materially misleading throughout the class period. When the market learned the truth about Vertex Energy, investors suffered damages.
For more information on the Vertex Energy class action go to: https://bespc.com/cases/VTNR
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.
Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C.
Brandon Walker, Esq.
Melissa Fortunato, Esq.