Herbalife Ltd., the embattled downtown Los Angeles nutritional supplement company, reported its fourth quarter earnings, with some disappointing results, after markets closed Thursday.
The firm reported net income of $103 million ($1.21 a share) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to $124 million ($1.15 a share) for the same period a year before. Wall Street analysts had expected earnings of $1.30 a share.
Herbalife reported net income of $308 million for the year, down 41 percent compared to the previous year.
Currency fluctuations took a toll on sales, with most of the impact coming from Venezuela, an important market for Herbalife. The company saw fourth quarter net sales of $1.1 billion, down 11 percent from the previous quarter. Net sales for 2014 totaled $5 billion, a 3 percent increase compared to the previous year. Excluding currency impact, those sales increased 8 percent over the same period.
Shares of Herbalife closed Thursday at $34.82, falling slightly to $34.40 in after-hours trading.
Herbalife also issued guidance for this year, which included an unfavorable impact from currency rates. For the first quarter, it expects a hit of roughly $0.28 a share, and for the full year a currency headwind of about $1.19.
“Our revised guidance reflects the currency landscape faced by all global companies and the short-term volume impact of the enhancements we are making,” said Chief Executive Michael Johnson. “We believe we are executing the right long-term strategy and are confident in our ability to create sustainable value for our shareholders and the millions of Herbalife members and their customers worldwide.”
The multi-level marketer has been fending off vigorous criticism from hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has called the company a pyramid scheme. The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating the firm, and Herbalife has denied the claims. Herbalife acknowledged in its annual report that these matters may take several years to resolve.
The company said it spent $16.6 million last year on “responding to attacks on the company's business model” and another $9.4 million on expenses “related to the FTC inquiry.”
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