New Equity Position: Herbalife (HLF
): Herbalife is a leading provider of weight management and nutritional supplements operating in more than 80 countries through a network of independent distributors. The stock declined by nearly half last month following controversial assertions made by a short seller about Herbalife’s business model and practices. Third Point has a different view and holds about 8% of Herbalife outstanding common stock, which we acquired mostly during the panicked selling that followed the short seller’s dramatic claims.
Based on its strong financial performance, Herbalife is a classic “compounder” – a well-managed company that sustains consistent top-line growth, has a leading market position, and steadily increases margins, earnings per share and free cash flow while demonstrating shareholder-friendly behavior. Since going public in 2004, Herbalife has increased revenue at a double digit rate for seven of the past eight years, expanded gross and operating margins, leveraged operating expenses, and introduced more premium products. Earnings per share have increased by approximately 20-50% each year since 2004, with the exception of 2009. Led by CEO Michael Johnson, management has also used the company’s ample free cash flow to de-lever its balance sheet and shrink the share count by nearly 25%. This type of steady non-cyclical growth is hard to find and puts Herbalife at the head of the compounders’ class. Continue Reading »