Concerns about multiple investigations into its business practices sent Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shares plummeting a few months back, but the stock has been steadily regaining value since early April, recently passing $65, as investors have gotten over the surprise and mostly returned to the pro- or anti- positions they had already settled on. For his part, Pershing Square Capital Management founder Bill Ackman is continuing his campaign of profiling Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF)’s biggest distributors to call attention to what he calls a pyramid scheme, this time going after Chairman’s Club members David Bevan and Jane Clark.
B.I.G. uses standard rags-to-riches marketing
“B.I.G. Business Systems Ltd. (“B.I.G.”) is a business operated by David Bevan and Jane Clark that provides members with digital tools for recruiting new Herbalife distributors, training services, and guidance on how to shelter Herbalife-related earnings from taxation authorities,” Pershing Square writes on its Herbalife is a Pyramid campaign web site.
The page shows Bevan and Clark showcasing their expensive home and luxury cars in recruitment videos that tell of how Bevan was making £3500 per month within four months of joining Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) and how Clark was making £4800 per month after just three months. The couple also claims to have turnover of almost half a million pounds per month. While there’s no explicit promises that other distributors will have the same results as they did, Ackman’s argument that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme rests partly on the idea that high level distributors use rags-to-riches stories to create unrealistic expectations.
B.I.G. has credit card facility for new distributors to use
The page also highlights that Bevan advertises the companies “credit card facility . . . that allowed a lot of our guys to get started very, very quickly.” Encouraging new distributors to take on debt at the beginning is controversial (and a practice that many Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) bulls deny), because it adds to the impression that high-level distributors are just trying to get as much out of new recruits as possible.
“We decided to leverage ourselves and put our 4000 volume point supervisor order on the one and only credit card that we had left and now as I look back, that is the smartest business decision I ever made in my life,” says Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) President’s Team member Michael Burton, indirectly encouraging the same tactic.
While this profile doesn’t have anything that looks like a smoking gun, and it probably won’t sway anyone who isn’t already shorting the company, it shows that Ackman has no intention of letting up.