Billionaire activist Bill Ackman and Herbalife (HLF) CEO Michael Johnson have never managed to see eye-to-eye.
Most recently, Johnson said in a post-market earnings call with analysts Tuesday that its FTC settlement -- which included a $200 million fine, a separate $3 million fee levied by the Illinois attorney general and requests to reorganize certain businesses -- was "good for our company."
That's a far cry from Ackman's claim that Herbalife will ultimately "not survive" the FTC sanctions , which centered on Herbalife's compensation policies for its distributors and how they individually book sales. Ackman, who made Pershing Square's roughly $1 billion short position against Herbalife in December 2012, has long argued that Herbalife operates a "pyramid scheme," basing the majority of its earnings through the recruitment within its multitiered employee structure, rather than product sales.
But it sounds as though Herbalife, which has over the years called Ackman a "Wall Street gambler" who's made a "reckless" bet, couldn't be happier.
After booking adjusted earnings for the quarter of $1.29 per share, 6% higher than consensus estimates, on sales of $1.2 billion, which also beat forecasts by 1%, Johnson said on an analyst call that he has "the greatest confidence in our ability to comply with the agreement and continue to grow our business," highlighting what Herbalife perceives as a favorable FTC ruling compatible with the company's evolving business model.
"With these settlements behind us, we can now put the full power of our more than 8,000 employees and 4 million members into building an even stronger and more focused nutrition company that meets the needs of consumers in our 94 markets around the globe," Johnson added, noting that Herbalife is raising its adjusted 2016 earnings guidance to a range of $4.50 to $4.80, from previous guidance of $4.40 to $4.75.
"Investors need to be convinced of the long-term viability of the U.S. model and the company's operational strength," he said, highlighting that Herbalife is also planning to meet with investors for the first time in 15 years, which should help provide Herbalife with a "confidence builder."
"There is execution risk in holding the company to the letter of the FTC deal, though we generally view the terms of the deal to be benign," Ramey said. "The deal does establish new rules of the road for mid-level marketers, which largely favor HLF over its competition," which include fellow publicly traded multilevel marketers Avon Products (AVP) , a member of Real Money's Stressed Out watch list, privately held Advocare International and Amway Global.