Herbalife Results Don't Crown a Winner

Nutrition Supplement
Nutrition Supplement

Someone's going to take a beating after today's earnings results from Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF). Will it be Carl Icahn, who now owns about 13% of the company's stock, or will it be William Ackman, who stands on a huge short position in the shares?

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results after the markets closed today. Quarterly diluted earnings per share (EPS) were $1.05 on revenues of $1.06 billion. In the same period a year ago, the nutrition and weight-loss company reported EPS of $0.86 on revenues of $884.57 million. The Thomson Reuters estimates called for EPS of $1.03 and $1.05 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Herbalife posted EPS of $4.05 on revenues of $4.07 billion, compared with 2011 EPS of $3.30 on revenues of $3.45 billion. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $4.04 on revenues of $4.07 billion.

The company's CEO said:

Herbalife continues to deliver record results in sales and profitability as our independent distributors go deeper into existing markets, developing more and more customers using our nutrition products every day

But does anyone really care how the company actually performed during the quarter and for the past year? Probably not. Sure Herbalife beat its quarterly estimates and even squeaked out an EPS beat for the year on inline revenues. So, what does that mean for Icahn and Ackman?

The results are not a bone-crushing victory or defeat for either side. Ackman will probably get the worst of it when trading begins tomorrow, but his interest is not in Herbalife's numbers, which he claims are the result of a pyramid scheme anyway. The silver lining for Ackman is that Herbalife's results could possibly be used to put more pressure on the federal government to open an investigation against Herbalife.

But an inquiry probably won't happen on the basis of these results. They're just not exciting enough. As for Icahn, he can wait a bit or urge Herbalife to spread some of its cash around to shareholders. Any bets on which course he'll choose?

Herbalife shares closed at $39.74 today against a prior 52-week trading range of $24.24 to $73.00. Shares have risen about 2.5% to $40.75 in after-hours trading. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $63.10 before today's report.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Earnings, Food Tagged: featured, HLF