Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) hosted its Q1 earnings conference call today in which the executives and callers talked about Herbalife’s bad publicity and how much of an effect it had on the nutritional supplements business, which was not much according to the discussion. In response to a question from an analyst, the executives said that business is growing in the US and has suffered no significant effect from negative public comments. Herbalife’s Q1 earnings took a write down of $9.5 million from Bill Ackman’s short which was mostly spent on legal and advisory services to combat his claims.
CEO Michael Johnson expressed his disappointment over the insider trading scandal that involved their ex-auditor KPMG. He said the company will be in the position to disclose their new auditor in the next few weeks. Johnson also said that they will be announcing significant changes to the nomenclature used by the company in the next 30 days, and similar plans were stressed in FY2012 earnings call, back in February. The company is working with its distributors to simplify the terms that are used to define its business.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is working on a new debt arrangement to finance share buybacks, however the process was halted due to issues with the ex-auditor, KPMG. In response to Herbalife diehard Tim Ramey’s question about options other than debt leveraged share buybacks, CFO John DeSimone said that they are looking at other options but nothing is concrete as yet.
The company also formulated a new position, Head of Consumer and Distributor Insights, which is meant to give the company more insight into distributor and consumer behaviors and preferences. The company will announce the person who will fill this role this quarter. Just a couple of days ago, Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shareholders voted Carl Icahn’s nominees Jonathan Christodoro and Keith Cozza to Herbalife’s board.
Johnson continued to tout the results from Herbalife consumer surveys where 85 percent of Hispanics rate the product highly. The earnings call did not discuss how other ethnicities rated the products of the company.
Business is booming for Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) as obesity rises across the globe generally and especially in the western world. Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) experienced 13 percent growth in volume points y-o-y, volumes point growth was the highest in South and Central America at 33 percent and the lowest in North America, at 4 percent . However sales growth in North America showed a record increase while new distributors fell by 4 percent.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shares are up over 3 percent today.