SEC Opens Inquiry Into Herbalife: Hot Trends

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Popular searches on the Internet include Herbalife ( HLF) as the nutrition company is reportedly the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the SEC has launched an inquiry into the company. Rumors that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme have swirled for weeks, an allegation the company denies. Pershing Square Capital Management's William Ackman said in December that he had been shorting the stock after determining Herbalife was, indeed, a pyramid scheme. Ackman has sold short about 20 million Herbalife shares.

High-profile hedge fund manager Dan Loeb of Third Point LLC, however, came out on Wednesday and said Ackman was wrong. Loeb endorsed the company by disclosing in a filing that his fund owns 8.9 million Herbalife shares. In a statement, Third Point said it began accruing the Herbalife shares "mostly during the panicked selling that followed the short seller's dramatic claims."

Herbalife plans to go over its business model thoroughly with investors Thursday at an analyst and investor meeting.

The iPhone 5 is trending as Apple's ( AAPL) latest smartphone will hit Wal-Mart ( WMT) stores on Friday with Straight Talk Wireless.

The phone will be available without a contract for $45 a month, including unlimited talk, text and data. Customers can also opt for an international plan for $60 a month that will include unlimited calls to select countries.

Wal-Mart said the iPhone 5 as well as the iPhone 4 will be available at more than 2,000 Wal-Mart locations and at The 16GB iPhone 5 will be sold for $649 and the 8GB iPhone 4 will cost $449. Users can buy the smartphone over time through a financing offer of $25 per month.

Through the offer, Straight Talk Wireless claims to save users around $950 a year, compared to traditional unlimited plans.

Prior to this deal, the iPhone 5 had been available at Wal-Mart stores only with a two-year contract.

In November, Apple began selling the unlocked iPhone 5, which lets consumers opt for prepaid plans on their own.

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