Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) has been at the center of controversy with activist investor Bill Ackman for more than a year. This week regulatory filings indicate that the multi-level marketing company’s CEO has exercised options and then sold those Herbalife shares this week, reaping hefty profits in the progress.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that CEO Michael Johnson was exercising options on 5 million shares. He bought 250,000 shares on May 6 and 7 for an exercise price of $7.75 each. He spent approximately $1.94 million on that purchase.
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Then Johnson turned around and sold the stock for around $60 to $61 each, raking in $15 million. Of course it must be pointed out that his stake in the company did not change, as he basically just exercised his options and then sold all of those shares. Johnson also still owns 103,000 derivative securities. Bloomberg reports that Herbalife emailed a statement saying that the 10-year options were scheduled to expire this year if he did not exercise them.
He sold the shares as part of his pre-arranged 10b5-1 trading plan, which he entered into on March 4. That trading plan provides him coverage against insider trading allegations because he basically plans ahead to sell them at a certain price or time. Insiders make those trading plans before any potentially market-moving information is released.
Johnson’s filing comes the same week Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) said it would issue as many as 5 million shares as stock-based compensation for its employees.
Herbalife still battling pyramid scheme allegations
Meanwhile, Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) continues to battle allegations that it is a pyramid scheme. The nutritional supplements company said it was launching a “significant re-training program” in response to reports that its distributors were making misleading claims about its products. However, it turns out that Herbalife is already doing two of the three things the company said it would do, and the third is more of a possibility rather than a plan.
The company also bought back $266 million worth of its shares from Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) this week.