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Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Price Target Raised After Re-Audit Completion

Stocks in this article: HLF

Herbalife Ltd HLF probably won't be getting coal in its stocking this year.

This week Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) announced that its new accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers had completed the re-audit of its financial statements from the last few years. In the wake of that announcement, analysts at Canaccord Geunity have raised their estimates and price target for the company.

Herabalife PT goes to $87

Analysts Scott Van Winkle and Mark Sigal say that in spite of activist investor Bill Ackman’s best attempts to derail Herbalife and its stock, “it’s Santa, not Scrooge,” that’s visiting the company this year. They believe Herbalife Ltd. (HLF)’s business model is quite efficient and report that global deployment of its products will keep driving double-digit growth in earnings and revenue.

They reiterated their Buy rating and raised their price target to $87 per share from $77 per share. The analyst team said their new price target represents a multiple of 14 times their preliminary 2015 fiscal year earnings per share projection of about $6.20 per share.

Herbalife’s re-audit removes a weight

The Canaccord Genuity team notes that although the required re-audit of Herbalife Ltd (HLF)’s financial statements had nothing to do with the Bill Ackman fiasco, it was still an overhang on the company. The announcement that it was complete and that there were no material changes was a big relief for investors concerned that the new accounting firm would find something wrong with the company’s financial statements. Ackman wrote PricewaterhouseCoopers to urge the firm to look closely at Herbalife’s statements, but the firm reported that there was basically nothing to find.

The analysts note that the re-audit did get completed within the previously given time frame and said the results were as they had expected. They said the completion of it reduces the risk associated with investing in Herbalife.

Herbalife still expected to announce share buyback

Some speculated previously that after the re-audit was complete, Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) would announce a major share buyback plan. Many still expect this announcement because the company can now “more efficiently access debt markets.” They aren’t assuming that a self-tender is coming up very soon, but they do expect one in the future.

The analysts note that Herbalife exited the third quarter with a little less than $900 million in cash and approximately $950 million in total debt. They said at the very least, the completion of the re-audit improves Herbalife’s flexibility.

Herbalife seems like a bargain

At current share prices, they said Herbalife’s valuation is about 13 times projected 2014 fiscal year earnings per share. The Canaccord Genuity team also said this is an approximately 16% discount to Herbalife’s peers—the direct selling group. The analysts said although this gap might not close fully, it should narrow in the wake of the re-audit completion.

-By Michelle Jones

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