Business & Real Estate

Davis-based Marrone Bio reports significant losses for quarter, all of 2015

Davis-based Marrone Bio Innovations Inc., which has been dogged by an accounting scandal for more than a year, reported a net loss Wednesday of $11 million for the fourth quarter of 2015.

That was actually an improvement over a loss of $16.2 million in the last quarter of 2014.

Revenue for all of 2015 totaled $9.8 million, up from $9.1 million for the prior year. Even so, Marrone reported net loss of $43.7 million in 2015, compared with a loss of $51.7 million in 2014.

The Davis firm said it has endeavored to restructure and increase revenue amid costs associated with a financial restatement, audit investigation and related matters.

In its financial report, the firm noted: “Except with respect to ongoing related litigation, the company does not expect these expenses to continue in the future.”

“We are pleased to have seen an improvement in our business during the fourth quarter and, with many of the distractions of the past year behind us, we are excited and energized as we begin 2016,” said Marrone CEO Pam Marrone in a statement.

Marrone cited positive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actions and sales of key company products, adding: “As we go forward, we are focused on a number of additional operational objectives in addition to our priority on product sales growth.”

The quarterly report comes on the heels of last month’s arrest of the biotech company’s former chief operating officer. Hector Absi, 47, who pleaded not guilty to charges of doctoring Marrone’s financial results. Absi’s arrest was part of a prolonged financial mess that has hung over the Davis firm, in turn negatively affecting operations and its stock price.

Prosecutors charged that Absi gave some of the company’s outside distributors “inventory protection” that allowed them to sell Marrone Bio’s eco-friendly pesticides back to the company if they couldn’t sell them. That wasn’t illegal, but keeping the agreements secret from the company’s accountants was fraudulent, prosecutors said.

Absi is also being sued for fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Marrone disclosed that it was launching an internal investigation of its finances in September 2014, a month after Absi left. The company’s internal investigation concluded last fall, when it disclosed that it had overstated revenue by $6.7 million over an 18-month period.

Also in February, the SEC settled its investigation of the company itself, with Marrone Bio agreeing to pay a $1.75 million fine for misleading investors. The company still faces shareholder lawsuits, which have been consolidated in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Marrone Bio’s shares closed Wednesday at 99 cents, up 4 cents for the day, on the Nasdaq market.

Marrone Bio was founded in 2006 and made a major splash in August 2013, when it raised $57 million in an initial public offering of stock. The IPO was the first for a Sacramento-area company in seven years.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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