Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Bulls Still Happy But Estimates Cut

Herbalife Ltd. HLF

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) released its latest earnings report this week, greatly disappointing investors. However, analysts who’ve been bullish on the company remain so, although at least one has trimmed its price target and others have cut back their estimates.

Herbalife came up short on second quarter sales and cut sales guidance for the year. Revenue for the June quarter was $1.31 billion, compared to consensus estimates of $1.36 billion. Earnings per share of $1.55 were about in line with expectations. Management lowered their sales guidance to between 8.5% and 10% growth and volume guidance to between 6% and 8% growth. They increased earnings per share guidance to between $6.17 and $6.32, however, based on a lower share count due to the share repurchase program.

Herbalife price target lowered

In a report dated July 29, 2014, Wedbush analysts Rommel Dioniso and Alicia Reese say they are maintaining their Outperform rating but cutting their price target from $90 to $85 per share. They say because growth in China remains strong and Herbalife is still expanding its Daily Consumption initiatives, they think the company’s stock will trade about in line with its peer group.

However, the peer group as a whole has seen compression of multiples, which is why they bumped their price target down. Nonetheless, they still see Herbalife as representing “a solid buying opportunity for risk-tolerant investors.”

More volatility expected

In another report also dated July 29, 2014, Canaccord Genuity analysts Scott Van Winkle and Mark Sigal maintained their Buy rating and $73 per share price target on Herbalife. They say “just in-line earnings” plus “a modest sales shortfall” is to blame for continued volatility in Herbalife’s share price. The Canaccord Genuity team thinks Herbalife bulls wanted to see an earnings report that dealt “a death blow” to the bears, but that didn’t happen. They add that they weren’t surprised that the company’s results showed weakness in the U.S. market this year, although they were surprised it didn’t happen earlier due to bad media reports.

They expect the volatility around Herbalife stock to continue for some time but say the company’s valuation should “normalize” after the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation ends. The analysts continue to expect a favorable outcome and think the “vocal bear case has essentially run its course.” They say it’s unlikely that Herbalife stock will remain volatile due to critical comments from now on because they expect the company to “be much more aggressive in response to the bearish narrative.”

Herbalife matures

In a third report also dated July 29, 2014, Barclays analyst Meredith Adler and her team maintained their Overweight rating and $94 per share price target on Herbalife,. They note that growth at the company, as measured by volume points, slowed down in the second quarter, and management said this shows that the company is maturing. They also highlighted tough comparisons.

The Barclays team thinks Herbalife’s days of beating guidance quarter after quarter are probably over but say that it doesn’t mean the company has stopped growing. In fact, they expect growth to continue in the North America region for some time even though it is the company’s most mature market and volume points in the region fell slightly by 1.2%. Like the Canaccord Genuity team, Barclays analysts noted that it doesn’t look like Herbalife has been affected by outside factors like Bill Ackman’s campaign or the FTC probe.

They lowered their third quarter earnings per share estimate from $1.65 to $1.53 per share, compared to guidance of between $1.49 and $1.53 per share. They also cut their earnings estimate for the full fiscal year from $6.40 to $6.27 per share.

About the Author

Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Michelle has been with ValueWalk since 2012 and is now our editor-in-chief. Email her at Mjones@valuewalk.com.