Herbalife share price dips initially but recovers in after hours trading after sales and earnings beat expectations

Caitlin Morrison
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Herbalife describes itself as a wellness company, and provides customers with meal replacement shakes (Source: Getty)

Controversial marketing and nutrition firm Herbalife made $1.1bn (£788m) in sales in the final quarter of 2015, a 3.1 per cent drop compared with the same period of last year.

Profit dropped to $84.5m from $103.3m, and earnings per share (EPS) hit $0.98, down from $1.21- but beating expectations of $0.97.

Meanwhile, volume points - a measure of the number of Herbalife products sold - grew five per cent in the fourth quarter, up to 1.25bn. Average active sales leaders also increased, by three per cent to 377,219. The biggest increase was in China, which saw a 33 per cent jump.

Shares in the company initially dropped by 1.62 per cent in after hours trading, but subsequently recovered to soar by almost 15 per cent.

The company said its outlook for the first quarter of 2016 included an unfavourable impact from currency exchange rates, which will also impact on full year guidance. The group expects EPS to stay flat this quarter.

Volume points are projected to grow over the year by between 1.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent, while in the first quarter growth guidance ranges from minus 1.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

Herbalife chief exec Michael O. Johnson said: “2015 was a significant year for Herbalife, as we completed the rollout of bold and important changes to the marketing plan that will enhance the long-term and sustainable growth of our business. We successfully navigated the associated short-term challenges, believing that we were making the right changes at the right time, and despite ongoing currency and macroeconomic challenges, we finished the year returning to growth."

Herbalife is currently subject to a long-running investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

The company has also faced severe criticism in the past, notably from Bill Ackman, chief executive of hedge fund Pershing Square, who has attacked Herbalife as being a “pyramid scheme”. Ackman is so convinced of this allegation he made a $1bn short bet against the company – essentially hoping its share price will fall – and has said he expects the stock to be worthless when his claims are proved true. Ackman shorted the firm in 2012 when its shares were trading at around $47.

However, in Herbalife’s corner is billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn. Icahn is Herbalife’s biggest investor.

Based on these results, neither Ackman nor Icahn can claim victory at the moment.

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