HelloFresh shares fall 40% after earnings warning

  • author, Michael Reese
  • Role, Business correspondent, BBC News

Shares of food delivery company HelloFresh fell more than 40% after it warned that its profits would fall below expectations.

The German meal kit maker said it expects profits of between €350m (£298m) and €400m (£341m) this year, down from analysts' previous estimate of €568m (£484m).

The company also scrapped its revenue and profit targets for next year, citing rising costs in developing its “ready-to-eat” business.

The warning about its revenue comes after the company was fined for sending millions of unsolicited emails and text messages to customers.

In January, the prescription box company, founded in 2011, was told to pay £140,000 following an investigation by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in 2022.

HelloFresh, along with competitors including Gousto and Mindful Chef, saw business boom during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when people were told to stay at home.

Customers choose meals from a changing menu online and receive recipe cards and fresh ingredients in a ready-to-cook box once a week. Subscribers are often attracted to deals with deep discounts on their first box.

But customer numbers declined after restrictions were eased and the cost of living rose in recent years. About 7.1 million people worldwide subscribe, according to the company's latest figures, down from more than 8.5 million in 2022.

During the height of the pandemic, shares traded for nearly 100 euros each, but on Friday they were selling for less than 7 euros.

In November, the company lowered its 2023 earnings estimates, citing lower-than-expected sales growth and higher unit costs in North America.

The recent poor track record of providing reliable guidance by HelloFresh management means investors are likely to avoid the stock until results improve, investment bank JPMorgan said in a note.

HelloFresh's struggles come in the wake of rival Gousto lowering its valuation last month when it raised around £50m by offering discounted shares to investors.

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