Weight Watchers International, Inc. (WTW - Free Report) has used the power of Oprah to turn the company around. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) with earnings expected to soar 65% in 2017.
Weight Watchers provides weight management services through Company-owned and franchise operations as well as digital weight management products through its websites, mobile sties and apps.
In October 2015, as the company struggled to adjust to online competition, Oprah Winfrey bought a 10% stake, with the option to buy 5% more, and was given a seat on the Board of Directors.
Additionally, the billionaire entrepreneur, actress and media guru, became a spokesperson for the product.
In the 2-years since, it has been a bumpy road, but in 2017, Weight Watchers has clearly found the secret sauce as sales have turned around.
Another Beat in the Third Quarter
On Nov 6, Weight Watchers reported its third quarter results and beat the Zacks Consensus for the 5th straight quarter.
Earnings were $0.65 compared to the consensus of just $0.48.
Revenue jumped 15% to $324 million as total paid weeks in the quarter soared 20% year-over-year.
What's remarkable about its recent quarters is that it is seeing this growth outside of the usual "peak diet" quarter which occurs in January with New Year's resolutions. Prior to 2017, the business had been much more cyclical.
Raised Full Year Guidance Again
Once again, the company raised full year guidance, this time to a range of $1.77 to $1.83 from its prior guidance of $1.57 to $1.67.
In response, the Zacks Consensus Estimate rose to $1.60 from $1.45, which is earnings growth of about 65% as the company only made $0.97 last year.
The estimates for 2018 are also on the rise, jumping to $1.90 from $1.75 in the last 30 days. That's another 19% earnings growth.
Too Much Debt?
However, while annual revenue is now growing in the double digits, Weight Watchers has $1.930.4 million outstanding consisting entirely of Tranche B-2 Term Loans.
On Nov 13, Weight Watchers announced that it would offer $500 million in aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2025 in a private offering.
It intends to use the net proceeds and cash on hand to repay all amounts outstanding under its existing credit facilities and terminate those facilities.
It will also enter into a new $150 million revolving credit facility to refinance its existing $50 million revolving credit facility.
Shares fell on the news.
Is the Rally Over?
Shares of Weight Watchers have been one of the hottest stocks on the Street in 2017.
Year-to-date, they're up 303%. After beating on earnings again, shares hit new highs but the announcement of the notes sent them lower.
Weight Watchers is now trading with a forward P/E of 30.6.
But it has the growth to support the valuation and it's entering its hottest quarter of the year with a lot of momentum.
For investors looking for a stock in the hot wellness and health food area, Weight Watchers is one to keep on the short list.
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