Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shares are still close to their one-year high just hours ahead of activist investor Carl Icahn’s speech at Delivering Alpha. Icahn is one of the company’s greatest supporters. He stepped in on the company’s side after an all-out attack on the company and its business model was launched by Bill Ackman late last year.
FTC investigation into Herbalife continues
This week New York Post’s Michelle Celarier reported that the Federal Trade Commission informed consumer activists that it is “looking into” Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF). Sources told her that though that the agency didn’t say if it was launching a full-scale investigation. They also said that whether or not a full-scale investigation is launched depends a lot on resources because the agency might find it difficult to investigate the company on its own.
Ackman labeled the company a pyramid scheme late last year and initiated a huge short position in the company. Since then, a number of consumer advocacy organizations have sent letters to lawmakers urging an investigation into the company’s practices.
FTC representatives at this week’s meeting specifically expressed concern about the company taking advantage of the Hispanic and immigrant communities. The agency also reportedly said there were concerns about the nutritional supplements company’s decision to stop releasing the turnover rate for its distributors. When Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) last disclosed that rate, it was 90 percent in 2005.
Will Icahn address Herbalife?
It will be interesting to see if Carl Icahn tackles the Herbalife issue today at Delivering Alpha. He and Ackman were engaged in a tremendous public dispute over the company earlier this year, with Icahn even calling Ackman a “cry baby” over the issue, reports The Tell’s Tom Bemis on MarketWatch. Icahn now owns about a 16.5 percent stake in the company.
The company’s next earnings report is due July 29.