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Company profile: Weight Watchers, with a $4 billion market cap, is the largest provider of weight-management programs and has about a 3% market share.
Morningstar says "consumers buy more than $4 billion of Weight Watchers-branded products each year, and every week approximately 1.8 million people attend Weight Watchers meetings worldwide. (The company) has begun to monetize its brand reputation further by licensing its name and nutritional ratings to reputable food producers and restaurants," which has great growth potential.
Although sales have been hurt by the recession, S&P says "we look for 2011 sales growth of about 26%, paced by WTW's online site."
The company generated revenue of $1.5 billion in 2010 and was at $1.4 billion through the end of the third quarter so will easily beat that and set a record this year. Analysts' consensus earnings estimate for 2011 is $4.10 per share, up from $2.56 per share last year.
Share performance: up 51% this year; it has a 10-year annualized return of 6%.
Analysts' take: S&P has its shares rated "hold," but it has a $67, 12-month price target on it, a 20% premium. The investment firm Westend SA of Luxembourg owns 52% of its shares. Fidelity has a 12.4% stake, making it its second-largest investor. Its holding is double that of the next biggest investor.