Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Earnings: Barclays Unfazed By Ackman

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Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is scheduled to release its second quarter earnings results after closing bell on Monday. Analysts at Barclays are hoping to hear updates on the company’s expansion plans, trends in markets that are growing fast, plans for more mature markets and any more steps the company has taken to further improve its transparency.

Estimating Herbalife’s earnings results

In a report dated July 24, 2014, analysts Meredith Adler, Eric Cohen and Sean Kras maintained their second quarter earnings per share estimate of $1.59. That’s 2 cents higher than consensus estimates and 4 cents higher than the high end of the company’s guidance, which is a range of $1.51 to $1.55 per share. They’re projecting 12.8% in total sales growth, with local currency sales of 14.6% being the main driver. They expect a headwind of 1.8% from foreign currency to partially offset that increase.

The Barclays team also reiterated their full 2014 fiscal year estimate of $6.40 per share. That’s 10 cents higher than consensus and once again higher than Herbalife’s own guidance of between $6.10 and $6.30 per share.

What to listen for on Herbalife’s earnings call

The analysts name several thing investors should listen for when the company holds its earnings call the day after its report. For example, they want to hear which parts of the world were Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF)’s best-performing regions. Also they want to know if new products like the company’s skincare line are contributing to its growth.

In addition, they want to know what else Herbalife is doing to improve transparency. They say the company has already taken a few steps, like keeping distributors from buying leads and forcing them to sign a document that states they understand how limited the potential is for earning a living by selling Herbalife products. The Barclays team expects the company to also change the name for distributors who don’t actually sell the products and are mainly signed up to receive a discount on those products.

They’re also looking for updates on Herbalife’s operations in China, specifically, the preferred customer program, which focuses on daily consumption. As of the first quarter, the company had 200,000 people enrolled.

Investors may hold off on Herbalife

The analysts continue to rate Herbalife as Overweight with a $94 per share price target. They like the company because of its “robust revenue and earnings growth, increasing level of transparency, dedication to return cash to shareholders and compelling valuation.” They say Herbalife is currently valued at 8.5 times their 2015 fiscal year estimate of $7.75 per share.

The Barclays team notes that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) stock has climbed 25.5% since activist investor Bill Ackman’s last presentation on July 22. Because of that reaction, they think investors are starting to ignore his accusations and look more closely at the company’s fundamentals. They think many investors will hold off on Herbalife until the Federal Trade Commission completes its investigation. They believe that investigation will take about a year but that Herbalife will come through unscathed without “significant damage to its U.S. operations.”

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