Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) will report its third quarter earnings this afternoon, and the stock price is already picking up steam in anticipation of good news. The stock is still well under its $80+ highs from the beginning of this year as Pershing Square Capital Management’s Bill Ackman continues to pursue his short campaign, but with no new information coming out in recent months (besides the recent settlement news) and Herbalife longs convincing themselves that the FTC investigation will end with little to no action, it has been trending up recently.
“We think investors are starting to look past Bill Ackman’s accusations about the business, but the recent slowdown in US growth has caused concern,” write Barclay’s analysts Meredith Adler, Eric Cohen, and Sean Kras. “The company is hopeful that it will come out of the regulatory investigations without significant damage to its US operations, and sees little-to-no risk that a US decision will impact activities in other countries.”
Barclay’s sees 88% upside to Herbalife stock price
Barclay’s is Overweight on Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF), setting a $94 price target compared to just $52 this morning. Even with the regulatory shadow hanging over US operations and concerns about US consumer spending, they argue that global growth is strong, the company is improving its transparency and is committed to returning cash to shareholders, and at 7x 2015 projected earnings the stock is quite cheap. Barclay’s is projecting $1.53 EPS for the quarter on $1.3 billion in revenue and $1.1 billion gross profit.
What to look for
Aside from making sure that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is hitting growth targets, Barclay’s analysts Adler, Cohen, and Kras recommend that investors pay attention a few key points in the company’s financial report and tomorrow’s conference call.
Clearly, the most important in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) growth is sales trends: which regions are growing fastest, where do there appear to be problems, and are new product lines converting to actual sales. Since the Chinese market is expected to be a major component of future growth, you’ll want to check the most recent enrollment numbers in the preferred customer program there.
Other changes to look for are increased transparency, as well as some changing terminology, that is meant to defend against the current and future allegations that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is a pyramid scheme, and whether Herbalife feels like it can reinstitute the dividends that it canceled in 2Q14. At the time, Herbalife management said that it wanted to take advantage of the depressed stock price and more than doubled its buyback program instead of offering a mix of dividends and buybacks.