It seems that Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) cannot escape the scrutiny of activist investor Bill Ackman and his hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management. Herbalife, the weight loss product distributor, is incorporated in the Cayman Islands and has been accused of being a pyramid scheme in the past. The company has been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for the past year.
On March 5, CEO Michael Johnson filed a series of transactions with the SEC. He purchased more than $38 million worth of Herbalife stock, but sold more than $47 million. Overall, he walked away with nearly $9 million. TipRanks has published an article on transactions made by Johnson in the past.
On March 11, Bill Ackman made a presentation highlighting Herbalife’s business practices in China. He contended that Herbalife claims to use an hourly compensation model but really uses a royalty system. Ackman claims that Herbalife’s compensation system in China resembles a pyramid scheme, though Herbalife has denied the allegations.
Now, Herbalife is being investigated by the FTC. Executive Herbalife employees are under investigation, though their identities have not been made public. Herbalife has stated that they are cooperating with the investigation.
Herbalife and Pershing Square have been going back forth accusing each other of fraud. Pershing Square does not mince words, releasing a statement on April 1: “We are pleased that regulators are reviewing Pershing Square’s presentation on Herbalife’s business practices in China. We urge all interested parties to review our Herbalife China presentation at www.factsaboutherbalife.com… Pershing Square is confident that Herbalife is violating Chinese law prohibiting direct selling and pyramid sales… Herbalife’s SEC filings fail to accurately describe its compensation system in China and, as a result, Herbalife is also in violation of U.S. securities regulations.”
In response to Ackman’s presentation, Herbalife representative Alan Hoffman said, “The fraudulent China research is yet another example of the lengths to which Mr. Ackman will go in his campaign to manipulate Herbalife shares and enrich himself. We remain confident in the strong fundamentals of our business model and committed to helping people and communities improve their nutrition.” In a statement provided to CNBC on April 5, Hoffman added, “We are cooperating with these requests for information, remain confident in the integrity of our business practices, and are hopeful Ackman’s long-term campaign of distortion will be found to be illegal.”
Michael Johnson has a 32% success rate making informative transactions on Herbalife with an average loss of -13.7% average return per transaction.
On average, the top analyst consensus for Herbalife on TipRanks is Strong Buy.