GNC Holdings 1Q net income rises 14 percent

GNC 1st-quarter income rises, and company says new pricing plan will go nationwide in May

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- GNC Holdings Inc.'s net income rose 14 percent in the first quarter, and its shares moved higher in afternoon trading.

GNC sells vitamins, herbal supplements and other health products. The company's quarterly results were similar to analyst expectations, and GNC said that in May it will expand a new Gold Card pricing program to all of its stores and its GNC.com website.

GNC has been testing the program since 2012 and says it is helping its sales. The move comes sooner than expected, as GNC had said it planned to expand the program to most or all of its stores by the end of the year.

The company's old gold card entitled members to a 20 percent discount the first week of every month. Now it offers variable discounts every day.

GNC said its net income rose to $72.6 million, or 73 cents per share, from $63.9 million, or 59 cents per share. Revenue increased 6 percent, to $664.7 million from $624.3 million.

Analysts expected net income of 72 cents per share and $672.6 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

The company said its results in February were disappointing, but they rebounded in March and the improvement continued into April. That was a good sign for the second quarter.

Many retailers said their sales slumped in February because a temporary federal tax cut expired. The Internal Revenue Service also pushed back the start of tax-filing season by two weeks because income tax rates were not set until a last-minute deal between the White House and Congress on Jan. 1, which meant some early filers saw delayed income tax refunds.

Both of those issues disproportionately affected middle- and lower-income Americans.

GNC said the new pricing plan will lead to extra costs in the second quarter but will be neutral to its full-year outlook. The company still expects to report net income of $2.75 and $2.80 per share for the year. Analysts expect $2.80 per share on average.

GNC shares rose $1.29, or 4 percent, to $44.34 in afternoon trading. The stock is up 29 percent in 2013 and has advanced about 22 percent since the company reported its fourth-quarter results in February. GNC shares have been trading around all-time highs and went as high as $45.22 Friday.

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