Herbalife posts double-digit declines in 4th-quarter revenue, profit

Herbalife profits fell in fourth quarter, and supplements company lowered its profit target for this year

Herbalife Ltd., the embattled Los Angeles nutritional products company, said its profit fell 16% in the fourth quarter. Revenue was down 11% for the quarter.

The company also lowered its profit targets for this year. Herbalife's stock was up about 1% in after-hours trading.

Michael O. Johnson, the company's chief executive, said weakening currencies in foreign markets played a big role in the lower profits. Sales were also affected by new rules that limit the amount of product some of its salespeople can order, the company said. 

"Our revised guidance reflects the currency landscape faced by all global companies and the short-term volume impact of the enhancements we are making," Johnson said in a statement.

"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."

Herbalife said it earned $103.3 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, down 16% from the $123.5 million it made in the same period of 2013.

The company said it expects profit this year of $4.10 to $4.50 a share.

Founded in 1980 and based in Los Angeles, Herbalife sells weight-loss, nutrition and personal care products through a network of millions of independent salespeople in more than 90 countries.

Herbalife has been one of the hottest topics on Wall Street for more than two years.

In December 2012, activist investor Bill Ackman accused the company of operating a pyramid scheme and urged regulators to investigate. He announced that his hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management had shorted the company's stock by more than $1 billion, a step that would allow it to profit if the stock lost value.

Herbalife's stock nose-dived on the news, but recovered in 2013 as regulators failed to act.

The company's stock, however, sank 52% in 2014 on word of a Federal Trade Commission investigation and declining earnings.

On Thursday, the stock gained $1.16, or 3.5%, to $34.82 in regular trading, before the fourth-quarter results were released. The stock is down 8% this year as of Thursday's close.

Twitter: @spfeifer22

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