Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF)’s re-audit from PricewaterhouseCoopers is expected to be complete by the end of the year, and tension around the company continues to rise, with people taking big positions on both sides. Of course Bill Ackman has been a vocal critic of the company, saying he would take his short “to the end of the earth,” and Carl Icahn has taken a long position, but the harsh language isn’t restricted to billionaire investors.
“If I were an honest, hard-working regulator earning an honest wage it would steam my beets to know that the pied piper of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF), CEO Michael Johnson has collected tens of millions of dollars in compensation operating this opaque enterprise for much of the last decade,” writes former director of RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Matt Stewart for Seeking Alpha. “Herbalife is a product based pyramid scheme, an endless chain, a deceptive enterprise run by a group of shameless promoters.”
Stewart, who is short on Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF), warns anyone long on the company that there is a veritable laundry list of potential charges that could rain down on the company.
On the other hand, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has come out strongly in favor of the company, arguing that it is a development vehicle that gives marginalized people economic opportunity selling high quality goods.
Herbalife is a very democratic company
“I wouldn’t be here today if I weren’t proud to be associated with Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF). And it wouldn’t be operating in more than 80 countries if it weren’t satisfying customers wherever it goes,” Albright said in a speech, Dan McCrum reports for FT. “Herbalife is a very democratic company. You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy its products, and you don’t need a PHD to distribute them, all it takes is initiative and ability to communicate with others.”
Herbalife is facing legal challenges
Even if PWC’s audit comes back clean, Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is facing legal challenges alleging that it’s a pyramid scheme. Losing the case opens the door to an enormous number of similar suits, and would be an enormous blow to investors, but the eventual outcome is anyone’s guess. The only certainty is that anyone on the wrong side stands to lose a great deal of money.