The U.S. District Court in Colorado yesterday dismissed with prejudice the class action lawsuit brought against Farmland Partners Inc. (NYSE: FPI) (the “Company” or “FPI”) and its management team after FPI’s stock price dropped sharply immediately following the short and distort scheme against the Company in the summer of 2018.
In a 21-page reasoned order, the court granted FPI’s Motion for Summary Judgment, ruling that no jury could reasonably find in plaintiff’s favor on claims stemming from a July 2018 attack published on the financial website “Seeking Alpha” as part of a short and distort scheme targeting FPI, management, and its stockholders.
As noted in the court’s order, the author of the Seeking Alpha publication “since admitted that several of the allegations were inaccurate,” and that “he and his clients – particularly a hedge fund called Sabrepoint Capital – shorted Farmland stock before the Report was published and profited off the ensuing price drop.”
The court went on to dismiss each of plaintiff’s claims with prejudice, including claims relating to FPI’s loan program, alleged related party transactions, and allegations that FPI’s executives sought to defraud investors. FPI is unable to predict whether the plaintiff will appeal the court’s ruling.
“After nearly four years, this judgment on the merits should finally slam the door on the baseless attacks against our company, its leadership, and most importantly its shareholders,” said FPI Chairman and CEO Paul Pittman, who was named in the class action lawsuit.
“We were the target of short-sellers who knowingly published false information about our company to manipulate FPI’s stock price in order to earn large profits for themselves and at the expense of our shareholders,” he explained. “Even though we were successful in unmasking the perpetrators and the falsity of this blatantly manipulative scheme, we nevertheless have had to continue to defend the resulting class action lawsuit at significant corporate expense. We are thankful that the court rightly ruled in our favor and put an end to this frivolous litigation and its continuing cost to our shareholders.”
In June 2021, Quinton Mathews, the previously anonymous author of the 2018 accusations against the Company, admitted the falsity of his work, acknowledged he was hired by a hedge fund that shorted FPI stock, and agreed to return a multiple of the trading profits he gained. A copy of Mr. Mathews’ admission can be viewed at https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/47800059-rota-fortunae/5605955-mathews-settlement-press-release.
FPI is still pursuing litigation against the hedge fund that hired Mathews.
The court’s ruling can be read in its entirety at http://ir.farmlandpartners.com/Judgment.
About Farmland Partners Inc.
Farmland Partners Inc. is an internally managed real estate company that owns and seeks to acquire high-quality North American farmland and makes loans to farmers secured by farm real estate. As of the date of this release, the Company owns and/or manages nearly 187,000 acres in 19 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia. We have approximately 26 crop types and more than 100 tenants. The Company elected to be taxed as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, commencing with the taxable year ended December 31, 2014. Additional information: www.farmlandpartners.com or (720) 452-3100.
This press release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including, without limitation, statements with respect to expected yields on acquired farmland, our outlook, proposed and pending acquisitions and dispositions, the potential impact of trade disputes and recent extreme weather events on the Company's results, financing activities, crop yields and prices and anticipated rental rates. Forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "may," "should," "could," "would," "predicts," "potential," "continue," "expects," "anticipates," "future," "intends," "plans," "believes," "estimates" or similar expressions or their negatives, as well as statements in future tense. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, beliefs and expectations, such forward-looking statements are not predictions of future events or guarantees of future performance and our actual results could differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. Some factors that might cause such a difference include the following: the possibility that the Company will incur additional costs in the event that the court’s ruling is appealed, general volatility of the capital markets and the market price of the Company's common stock, changes in the Company's business strategy, availability, terms and deployment of capital, the Company's ability to refinance existing indebtedness at or prior to maturity on favorable terms, or at all, availability of qualified personnel, changes in the Company's industry, interest rates or the general economy, adverse developments related to crop yields or crop prices, the degree and nature of the Company's competition, the timing, price or amount of repurchases, if any, under the Company's share repurchase program, the ability to consummate acquisitions or dispositions under contract and the other factors described in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, and the Company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Any forward-looking information presented herein is made only as of the date of this press release, and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information to reflect changes in assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events, or otherwise.