Prince of Protein’s excuses are wearing thin at THG

The problem once again is one of expectation versus reality, and the flimsy explanations provided for the gap between the two.

With profit margins failing to meet analyst forecasts, and a warning that 2022 could be more challenging than anticipated, the shares sank as much as 10pc to fresh lows of 167p.

Investors that bought in at the 500p float price and have been brave enough to stick around will have lost two-thirds of their money.

This time around, the company is blaming currency swings for the fall in margins, along with lockdowns and “record commodity prices” for the gloomier outlook. Protein powder isn’t as cheap as it used to be.

It is all perfectly plausible but on the other hand it is also vague and foreseeable, and coming from an outfit whose credibility in the City is shot to pieces.

The vicious share price reaction is no surprise. What the Hut Group really needs is a mea culpa from Moulding to completely reset relations with disillusioned shareholders, followed by a sustained period of meeting financial guidance, or as he told GQ magazine in an ill-advised interview, “smashing our numbers”.

But that requires a reality check, and Moulding’s decision to persist with implausible conspiracy theories about co-ordinated short-seller attacks rather than taking responsibility for the mess himself suggests there’s little chance of that happening any time soon.

Rather than complaining about hedge funds, he should spend some time explaining why the shares aren’t overvalued, not providing further evidence that they are.

Lashing out at short-sellers for share price collapses is the last refuge of the under pressure chief executive – the irony is that it is probably a signal to short the stock.

Moulding looks increasingly like a captain blaming the sea as his ship sinks beneath the waves.

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