Description of Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. Securities
DESCRIPTION OF THE REGISTRANT’S SECURITIES
REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12 OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
As of December 29, 2019, Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. has one class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”): our common stock.
Description of Common Stock
Authorized Capital Shares
Our authorized capital stock consists of 200,000,000 shares of common stock, $0.001 par value per share, and 10,000,000 shares of undesignated preferred stock, $0.001 par value per share. The outstanding shares of our common stock are fully paid and nonassessable.
Each holder of our common stock is entitled to one vote for each share of common stock held on all matters submitted to a vote of stockholders. Cumulative voting for the election of directors is not provided for in our Certificate of Incorporation, which means that the holders of a majority of our shares of common stock voted can elect all of the directors then standing for election.
Subject to preferences that may apply to shares of preferred stock outstanding at the time, the holders of outstanding shares of our common stock are entitled to receive dividends out of funds legally available at the times and in the amounts that our board of directors may determine.
Upon our liquidation, dissolution, or winding-up, the assets legally available for distribution to our stockholders would be distributable ratably among the holders of our common stock and any participating preferred stock outstanding at that time after payment of liquidation preferences, if any, on any outstanding shares of preferred stock and payment of other claims of creditors.
Preemptive or Similar Rights
Our common stock is not entitled to preemptive rights and is not subject to conversion or redemption. The rights of the holders of our common stock are subject to, and may be adversely affected by, the rights of the holders of shares of any series of our preferred stock that our board of directors may designate and issue in the future.
Our common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the trading symbol “SFM.”
Description of Preferred Stock
Our board of directors is authorized, subject to limitations prescribed by Delaware law, to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of our preferred stock in one or more series, to establish from time to time the number of shares to be included in each series, to fix the designation, powers, preferences, and rights of the shares of each series and any of its qualifications, limitations, or restrictions, in each case without further action by our stockholders. Our board of directors can also increase or decrease the number of shares of any series of preferred stock, but not below the number of shares of that series then outstanding.
Anti-Takeover Effects of Our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws
We are governed by the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”). Our Certificate of Incorporation (the “Certificate of Incorporation”) and our Amended and Restated Bylaws (the “Bylaws”) contain certain provisions that could have the effect of delaying, deterring, or preventing another party from acquiring control of our company. These provisions, which are summarized below, may discourage coercive takeover practices and inadequate takeover bids. These provisions are also designed, in part, to encourage persons seeking to acquire control of our company to negotiate first with our board of directors. We believe that the benefits of increased protection of our potential ability to negotiate more favorable terms with an unfriendly or unsolicited acquirer outweigh the disadvantages of potentially discouraging a proposal to acquire our company.
Undesignated Preferred Stock
As discussed above, our board of directors has the ability to issue preferred stock with voting or other rights or preferences that could impede the success of any attempt to acquire control of our company. These and other provisions may have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers or delaying changes in control or management of our company.
Limits on Ability of Stockholders to Act by Written Consent or Call a Special Meeting
Our Certificate of Incorporation provides that our stockholders may not act by written consent, which may lengthen the amount of time required to take stockholder actions. As a result, a holder controlling a majority of our capital stock would not be able to amend our Bylaws or remove directors without holding a meeting of our stockholders called in accordance with our Bylaws.
In addition, our Certificate of Incorporation provides that special meetings of the stockholders may be called only by the chairperson of our board or our board of directors. Stockholders may not call a special meeting, which may delay the ability of our stockholders to force consideration of a proposal or for holders controlling a majority of our capital stock to take any action, including the removal of directors.
Requirements for Advance Notification of Stockholder Nominations and Proposals
Our Bylaws establish advance notice procedures with respect to stockholder proposals and the nomination of candidates for election as directors, other than nominations made by or at the direction of our board of directors or a committee of our board of directors. These provisions may have the effect of precluding the conduct of certain business at a meeting if the proper procedures are not followed. These provisions may also discourage or deter a potential acquirer from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquirer’s own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of our company.
Our board of directors is divided into three classes, one class of which is elected each year by our stockholders. The directors in each class will serve for a three-year term. For more information on the classified board, see “Management—Board Composition.” In addition, our Certificate of Incorporation and our Bylaws provide that directors may be removed only for cause. The classification of our board of directors and the limitations on the ability of our stockholders to remove directors could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire, or discourage a third party from seeking to acquire, control of our company.
No Cumulative Voting
Our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws do not permit cumulative voting in the election of directors. Cumulative voting allows a stockholder to vote a portion or all of the stockholder’s shares for one or more candidates for seats on the board of directors. Without cumulative voting, a minority stockholder may not be able to gain as many seats on our board of directors as the stockholder would be able to gain if cumulative voting were permitted. The absence of cumulative voting makes it more difficult for a minority stockholder to gain a seat on our board of directors to influence our board’s decision regarding a takeover or otherwise.
Amendment of Charter Provisions
The amendment of the above provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws requires approval by holders of at least two-thirds of our outstanding capital stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors.
Delaware Anti-Takeover Statute
Our Certificate of Incorporation provides that we are not governed by Section 203 of the DGCL which, in the absence of such provisions, would have imposed additional requirements regarding mergers and other business combinations.
The provisions of our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws could have the effect of discouraging others from attempting hostile takeovers and, as a consequence, might also inhibit temporary fluctuations in the market price of our common stock that often result from actual or rumored hostile takeover attempts. These provisions might also have the effect of preventing changes in our management. It is possible that these provisions could make it more difficult to accomplish transactions that stockholders might otherwise deem to be in their best interests.
The foregoing description of our securities is a summary and does not purport to be complete. It is subject to and qualified in its entirety by reference to our Certificate of Incorporation and our Bylaws, each of which are incorporated by reference as an exhibit to the Annual Report on Form 10-K of which this Exhibit 4.1 is a part. We encourage you to read our Certificate of Incorporation, our Bylaws and the applicable provisions of the DGCL for additional information.