Feb. 23, 2023
As the new diet season progresses, we are left wondering about something. Conspicuously absent from Weight Watchers TV commercials is Oprah Winfrey, who at one time owned 10% of the company. What’s happening here? No TV ads featuring Oprah for the new 2023 diet season. Does she still own stock? How much? No mention of her role, if any, in the last few earnings reports and conference calls. It’s true that she made a bundle years ago when WW’s stock price soared as high as $65+ a share. But, a lot of that gain evaporated.
Oprah Winfrey is not now listed among the top ten owners of WW stock. The 10th largest owner owns 1.6% of the total stock outstanding. At one time, her investment of $43 million had soared to $400 million. But, that didn’t last, as the stock price has crashed to the $4.00 range now.
Her marketing contract with WW is up in 2023, but she has agreed to serve as an “adviser” for the company through May 2025.
Ms. Winfrey made a large personal investment in WW in October 2015, when she owned 10% of the company. In October 2015, Winfrey bought 10 percent of the company for roughly $6.79 per share. She also received options to buy another 5 percent of Weight Watchers stock for $6.97 per share, and she exercised that right in June 2019, buying more than 1.4 million shares. Later, the share price hit $61, for a tidy profit.
Then, in 2021, shares of WW International plummeted by more than 25 percent in August 2021, after reporting a slowdown in the number of people signing up for the program. The stock fell to $24.30 a share.
WW is struggling now. Maybe they need a shot in the arm in the form of some appearances by Oprah, if she indeed has lost some weight on WW. Maybe she hasn’t, and that’s the issue. Oprah’s weight has fluctuated through the years. But, her name still resonates with millions of women. Seems like a waste not to use her in some marketing role. Maybe the March 6 conference call will reveal plans.