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Weight Watchers Disappoints, On Multiple Levels: Q4 and 2013 Financial Performance (2/13/2014)

Q4 Results

Revenues of $366.1 million in the quarter, down 11.0% versus the prior year, with total paid weeks down 8.5%. Fourth quarter 2013 meeting revenues for the North American meetings business (NACO) were down 15.0% versus the prior year, driven by a lower active base at the start of the quarter and lower enrollments. Q4 2013 meeting paid weeks and attendance decreased 10.8% and 13.1%, respectively, versus the prior year. Q4 2013 International meeting revenues were down 11.4%  versus the prior year period, primarily driven by lower revenues in the United Kingdom.

The company’s stock price tumbled 25% to $22.88 on Friday 2/14, after declining as much as 27% for the biggest intraday drop since the company’s initial public offering in 2001.

Full Year 2013 results Full year fiscal 2013 revenues decreased 6.2%  to $1.72 billion versus the prior year.  This decrease resulted from lower revenues in the meetings business as it experienced weaker volumes globally, most notably in North America and the UK. This decline in meetings business revenues was partially offset by modest revenue growth in WeightWatchers.com.

Full year fiscal 2013 total paid weeks were down 3.9% compared to the prior year.  Online paid weeks increased 1.7% versus the prior year, while meeting paid weeks declined 10.1%. Full year fiscal 2013 operating income decreased 9.7% versus the prior year.

2014 Guidance

The company expects 2014 revenues to decline further to $1.4 billion, with a decline in the 20% range. Wow!

Marketdata Commentary

Weight Watchers right now is like a ship adrift with no rudder. Sorry to say, but the firm has lost its mojo. Management is basically saying they’re throwing in the towel for 2014 and there’s nothing they can do. This is the attitude of an industry leader? We disagree. There’s PLENTY they can do. They just aren’t doing it!  More Jessica Simpson ads, no mention of developing more customization, entering untapped markets, no new retail partners, blaming free apps for their decline. Fact is, the firm is being out-innovated by the likes of NutriSystem, Medifast and others. The company’s focus is on controlling costs and reducing headcount (financial), when it should be on MARKETING  and the development of new services. How about shifting $10 million of that $296 marketing spend, or some of the $175 million cash on hand toward developing new programs and services, and getting them to market quicker? And how about getting out of the UK market, where it has encountered really tough competitors for some time now? And, what happened to “re-imagining our core offerings” that management spoke about a few months ago? Exactly what have they done to re-imagine their program?

See the complete press release and financials here

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