GNC CEO Shakeup Could Be a Healthy Sign for Investors

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- GNC Holding's (GNC) recent naming of Michael Archbold as CEO brings in an experienced and proven industry insider.

Archbold is a former chief executive of Talbots (TLB) and President and COO of Vitamin Shoppe (VSI) . The 25-year retail veteran replaces Joseph Fortunato, who had been the CEO for nearly nine years.

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Shares of the $3 billion health and wellness retailer, at $37.50, are down nearly 36% for the year to date. They trade at a P/E ratio of 11.79x (2015 estimates) with 11.6% EPS growth (-0.4% this year), price to sales ratio of 1.25x, and a price to book ratio of 4.44x. Revenue growth is expected to accelerate from +0.1% to +5.1% next year.

The 1.71% dividend yield (next ex-dividend date is on Sept. 10) is comparable to that of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust's (SPY) 1.80% yield. On Aug. 13, GNC raised its two-year share repurchase program to $500 million from $250 million (roughly 15% of the total market capitalization); 5.64% of the total float is currently sold short (an estimated 1.3 days to cover).

The average analyst price target on the stock is $44.58 (19.33% above the current share price). There is one sell rating, 10 hold ratings and 7 buy ratings. On Aug. 11, Credit Suisse upgraded the stock to outperform from neutral with a $43 price target. The main reason for the upgrade was Archbold's prior success and his "rich" history with private equity firms (i.e., a possible sale of the company).

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