Globe Life Sank by Record on ‘Inflammatory’ Short Report

Globe Life Sank by Record on ‘Inflammatory’ Short Report

(Bloomberg) — Globe Life Inc. dropped by a record on Thursday, closing at the lowest level in eight years after a short-seller report that the company refuted.

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Shares dropped 53% during regular hours trading in a frenzied sell-off that triggered multiple volatility halts through the day. The rout followed a critical report from Fuzzy Panda Research, which said it had a short position in the life insurance company. Globe Life said it was disappointed to see “self-motivated short sellers push inflammatory allegations” in order to drive its stock price down, and that the company would look at all means of legal recourse.

“We reviewed the report and found it to be wildly misleading, mixing anonymous allegations with recycled points pushed by plaintiff law firms to coerce Globe Life into settlements,” the company said in a statement.

Shares rose as much as 16% in postmarket trading following the company’s response.

The short-seller Fuzzy Panda claimed it had “uncovered extensive allegations of insurance fraud ignored by management.” The report came in the wake of Orso Partners’ Nate Koppikar calling out Globe Life as a short idea at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York last week.

Read more: Why Activist Short Sellers Stir Up Controversy: QuickTake

Shares have fallen for 10 straight sessions, and Thursday’s plunge erased more than five billion dollars from its market capitalization. The selloff made it the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500 so far this year. The company’s scheduled to report earnings on April 22.

Truist Securities analyst Mark Hughes, who has a hold rating on the stock, wrote in a note that it would “be difficult to pursue a wide-spread fraud for a product that requires a premium payment in conjunction with the policy coverage.”

“If the company’s sales growth over the last four years were a mirage, this would have been apparent in GL’s premium collections and cash flows and would have been obvious to auditors, we judge,” Hughes wrote.

–With assistance from Hema Parmar.

(Updates to add latest trading and company response.)

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