Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: 09/04/2020
SUMMARY OF CASE:
A securities class action has been filed against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (PPC) on behalf of a class of all persons and entities who purchased or otherwise acquired Pilgrim’s Pride common stock between February 9, 2017 through June 3, 2020. This case has been filed in the USDC – CO.
The Complaint alleges that throughout the Class Period, the defendants continued to tout Pilgrim’s Pride’s competitive strengths, advantages, and market positioning, which the defendants claimed had been achieved through legitimate business strategies such as a broad product portfolio and disciplined capital allocation. However, on June 3, 2020, the truth about the source of Pilgrim’s Pride’s purported competitive strengths and advantages was revealed when the United States Department of Justice announced criminal charges (the “Indictment”) charging four executives in the chicken industry with criminal antitrust violations, including defendant Jayson J. Penn, Pilgrim’s Pride’s President and Chief Executive Officer since March 2019, and Roger Austin, a former Pilgrim’s Pride Vice President. The Indictment alleges that these individuals, as well as other co-conspirators, including defendant William W. Lovette, who was Pilgrim’s Pride’s President and Chief Executive Officer from January 2011 to March 2019, violated the Sherman Act by “participating in a continuing network of suppliers and co-conspirators, an understood purpose of which was to suppress and eliminate competition through rigging bids and fixing prices and price-related terms for broiler chicken products sold in the United States.”
The Indictment further alleged that in order to further the conspiracy, the individuals utilized their network of suppliers and co-conspirators from at least as early as 2012 and continuing through at least early 2017 to: “reach agreements and understandings to submit aligned, though not necessarily identical, bids and to offer aligned, though not necessarily identical, prices, and price-related terms, including discount levels”; “participate in conversations and communications relating to non-public information such as bids, prices, and price-related terms, including discount levels, . . . with the shared understanding that the purpose of the conversations and communications was to rig bids, and to fix, maintain, stabilize, and raise prices and other price-related terms, including discount levels”; and “monitor bids submitted by, and prices and price-related terms, including discount levels, offered by, Suppliers and co-conspirators.”
Following this news, the price of Pilgrim’s Pride common stock declined $2.58 per share, or approximately 12.4%, from a close of $20.87 per share on June 2, 2020, to close at $18.29 per share on June 3, 2020.
Throughout the Class Period, the defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Pilgrim’s Pride and its executives had participated in an illegal antitrust conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids from at least as early as 2012 and continuing through at least early 2017; (2) Pilgrim’s Pride received competitive advantages, which persisted during the Class Period, from its anticompetitive conduct; and (3) as a result, the defendants’ statements about the Pilgrim’s Pride’s business, operations, and prospects lacked a reasonable basis.
The Class Period commences on February 9, 2017, when Pilgrim’s Pride filed its annual report for the year ended December 31, 2016, with the SEC on a Form 10-K that touted Pilgrim’s Pride’s “competitive strengths” and advantages regarding its market position in the chicken industry. It further represented that Pilgrim’s Pride’s “full-line product capabilities, high-volume production capacities, research and development expertise and extensive distribution and marketing experience are competitive strengths compared to smaller and non-vertically integrated producers.”