This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

Weight Watchers Turnaround Still a Heavy Sell

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Some hedge fund investors still think Weight Watchers International's (WTW - Get Report) turnaround story is a little thin and that the trading range of the weight-loss company's debt in the 70s still represents too much risk for the opportunity.

Maglan Capital LP co-founder and portfolio manager Steven Azarbad, for example, has considered investing in Woodbury, N.Y.-based Weight Watchers but isn't convinced the time is right.

"It's a pretty challenging story," Azarbad said by phone.

Azarbad is wary of the two term loans trading in the secondary market, even at 70 cents on the dollar, because of the company's disappointing results and projections.

Must Read: Cerberus-Backed Albertsons to Buy Safeway for $40 A Share

"It's still pretty expensive," he asserted, noting that the debt is trading at 7.5 times Ebitda. "Things will get worse before they get better."

Weight Watchers reported $366.1 million in revenue for the 2013 fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, an 11% decrease compared to the same quarter in 2012. The company's number of weeks of paid service declined by 8.5% last year. And 2014 will be even worse.

"While we have strong confidence in this team's ability to execute a successful transformation, we knew that 2014 would be a very challenging year," CFO Nicholas Hotchkin said during the Feb. 13 fourth-quarter earnings call.

"It's so hard to model where this thing is going," said Maglan's Azarbad. "We're literally at the first or second inning in the turnaround. You typically want to invest in a turnaround in the fourth or fifth inning."

The effect of competition from phone applications and websites specifically dealing with dieting creates a lot of uncertainty about Weight Watchers' future. Azarbad compared Weight Watchers to retailers adjusting to the "Amazon[.com] effect" and videogame makers dealing with competition from mobile applications.

Another hedge fund source said Weight Watchers is on a campaign to pitch the resilience of its business model, but he is still on the fence.

"The concern is, is it different this time?" the hedgie wondered. "Is there some kind of secular change where people don't want to sit through meetings anymore?"

1 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
WTW $10.38 -6.90%
AAPL $93.47 -0.85%
FB $100.65 -0.35%
GOOG $674.93 -1.30%
TSLA $152.42 6.10%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 15,592.86 -321.88 -2.02%
S&P 500 1,815.50 -36.36 -1.96%
NASDAQ 4,228.4540 -55.1380 -1.29%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs