Herbalife provides distributor details after Einhorn queries

Wed May 2, 2012 4:19pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Nutritional supplements marketer Herbalife Ltd (HLF.N) revealed details about its distributor groups, a day after high-profile short-seller David Einhorn's questioning of its disclosure policy wiped $1.8 billion from the company's market value.

Herbalife's shares, which fell as much as 20 percent on Tuesday, fell another 6 percent to close down at $52.70 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Einhorn, who heads Greenlight Capital, did not make any critical comments during the Herbalife's post-earnings conference call on Tuesday. But his reputation for spotting companies to bet against by short-selling their shares was enough to send the stock reeling.

Among his questions about the company's direct selling model, Einhorn had asked why Herbalife had stopped disclosing the exact composition of its distributor groups.

Herbalife finance chief John Desimone had said at the time that the company had stopped disclosing the information because he did not think it was valuable to the business or to investors, but offered to provide it in the future.

Herbalife, which mostly sells its weight management products and nutritional supplements through 2.7 million independent distributors, said on Wednesday it revealed the exact details "for complete transparency".

The company said that at the low end of its distributors, 27 percent were people who bought products for their own use; 61 percent used the products personally and sold modest quantities to friends and family; and 12 percent signed up with the intention of seeking a promotion in the distributor hierarchy.

A spokesman for Einhorn declined to comment about the company's disclosures on Wednesday.

However, analyst Gary Albanese at brokerage Auriga USA had said it appeared that he was questioning how much product was being sold through to customers, as opposed to how much was being consumed by distributors themselves. (Reporting by Mihir Dalal in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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