Weight Watchers Beats Fourth Quarter Estimate

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On March 4, 2009, Weight Watchers International ( WTW) reported that its Q4 FY08 earnings grew 19.6%, helped by a reduction in the company's tax charges in the United Kingdom. Net income rose to $47.60 million or $0.62 per share from $39.80 million or $0.50 per share in Q4 FY07. Excluding one-time items, the company earned $42.60 million or $0.55 per share, which beat the most recent consensus estimate of $0.52 per share.

Total revenue, including the impact of value added tax, increased marginally to $346.20 million from $344.00 million a year ago. However, excluding the net benefit, total revenues were down 1.6% to $338.40 million. Segment-wise, Meeting Fees edged up 2.8% to $214.50 million from $208.70 million, while Internet revenues advanced 10.8% to $43.20 million from $39.00 million in Q4 FY07. However, Product Sales shrunk 10.7% to $63.10 million from $70.70 million, and revenue from Franchise Commissions plunged 13.9% to $3.10 million from $3.60 million a year ago. Finally, other revenue totaled $22.20 million compared to $22.10 million in Q4 FY07. Geographically, North American sales declined to $179.90 million, as a result of 5.3% drop in North American product sales. In addition, International sales dipped 1.4% to $97.70 million, dragged-down by a 17.3% slump in product sales.

WTW's total paid weeks advanced 11.2% to 30.80 million, while total attendance dropped to 12.80 million from 13.00 million a year ago. The company had 679,000 active online subscribers of weightwatchers.com, compared to 584,000 a year ago.

Recently, Weight Watchers paid a regular quarterly dividend of $0.175 per share.

For FY08, WTW's net income rose 1.5% to $204.30 million or $2.60 per share from $201.20 million or $2.48 per share a year ago, while revenue increased 4.7% to $1.54 billion from $1.47 billion in FY07.

Looking ahead to FY09, the company expects its earnings to range between $2.50 per share and $2.75 per share.

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