Accounting Blowup at Steinhoff Was Hiding in Plain Sight

In a cautionary tale for investors, shares of furniture giant plunged more than 60% after it admitted to ‘accounting irregularities’

Steinhoff International Holdings NV had lumps in its mattress long before the 63% plunge in its stock price Wednesday. Lest they suffer another sleepless night, investors should stay up late studying the string of warning signs that preceded an admission of “accounting irregularities” by one of the world’s largest furniture retailers.

Steinhoff has a sprawling portfolio of retail assets across Europe, Africa, Australasia and—since last year’s $2.4 billion acquisition of Houston-based Mattress Firm Holding Corp., which owns...

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