B Riley Caris analyst Linda Bolton Weiser, who is an Herbalife distributor and also covers the company for her firm, dropped coverage on Monday of the multi-level marketing company that sells weight loss and nutritional supplements.
She didn’t drop it because Bill Ackman blew her away with his short thesis either.
B Riley analyst Linda Weiser — who had a $101 price target on the stock — told clients that she is dropping coverage of Herbalife. The decision, however, is not because her bullish thesis on the company’s fundamentals have changed.
“Herbalife’s share price has been impacted significantly by market speculation related to high-profile short sellers,” she says, even as the company has reported better-than-expected sales, earnings and cash flow over the last few quarters.
“We believe the business fundamentals and near-term financial performance of the company will not be the key drivers behind share price performance for the foreseeable future,” Weiser says.
It’s interesting that Weiser is dropping her coverage, especially since she was so bullish on the company. What’s more is the reason given for dropping her coverage doesn’t seem to ring true.
Weiser was present at Bill Ackman’s brutal three-hour long 342-slide short thesis on Herbalife at a special Sohn Conference event in Midtown Manhattan last week where he called the company a “pyramid scheme.”
During the Q&A session, Weiser revealed that she was an analyst who covered the stock and that she was also an Herbalife distributor.
Ackman asked Weiser how long she had been a distributor and she responded that she had only been following the stock since a “little while ago.”
She didn’t tell Ackman how long she had been a distributor, but only that she buys Herbalife for her “own personal use.” Of course, buying Herbalife products for “own personal use” is exactly what Ackman suggests most of the company’s distributors do.
Weiser also told Bloomberg News that being a distributor helps her get access to company information, Duane D. Stanford reported.
She didn’t seem impressed with Ackman’s presentation telling Bloomberg News that it was “light.”
Shares of Herbalife have been pummelled since Ackman confirmed that he is short. The stock fell $1.21, or 4.44%, yesterday to close at $26.06 a share.
Herbalife responded to Ackman’s thesis saying that he used “outdated” and “inaccurate” information. We called Herbalife last week to specify what outdated and inaccurate information was used, but have not received a response.
The company said it will host an analyst day in January to rebut Ackman’s claims.
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