Weight Watchers International, Inc (WTW) shares are down nearly 35% after the company announced weak fourth-quarter earnings that missed analyst expectations. Shares have dropped the most since the weight loss company’s market debut more than 13 years ago, and quarterly revenue is down for the eighth straight period.
In the report, Weight Watchers forecasted earnings between 40 cents and 70 cents a share for 2015, missing the $1.43/share average analyst estimate. Revenue also fell short of projections, declining 10% to $327.8 million compared to the analyst consensus estimate of $334.3 million for the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the company’s profit matched analysts’ average estimate of 7 cents a share.
Also in the report is news that Weight Watchers is looking to cut $100 million in costs and operations. The company did not specify how many workers would lose their jobs, but said Lesya Lysyj, president of its North American operations, would leave Weight Watchers.
In addition to dismal reported numbers, membership has fallen 15% in the past quarter to 2.51 million users. This comes as no surprise as consumers are turning to digital activity gadgets like FitBit and Jawbone. It becomes increasingly difficult for Weight Watchers to justify subscriptions starting at $20/month, since activity trackers can be paired with free mobile apps that allow for easy analysis of caloric input and output.
In order to offset their challenges, Weight Watchers has made attempts to rebrand itself with a new ad campaign, a redesigned magazine, and an embracing of activity trackers; subscribers can use gadgets like the above mentioned FitBit and Jawbone, as well as the company’s own ActiveLink to track diet and exercise.
It is imperative for Weight Watchers to fully endorse the digital lifestyle and digital technology. They are on the right track, but will need to stay on this path in order to gain some of the ground it has lost.
Keep an eye on NutriSystem (NTRI) as well. Like Weight Watchers, the company is a leading provider of weight management products and services. According to Zacks.com, NutriSystem has an average earnings surprise of almost +114%, so look out for their earnings report on March 2.
Weight Watchers International, Inc closed the day Friday at $11.34, down 35.42% on the day. The company sits at a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
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